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ACL experience will come good on India assignment in Doha: Ishan Pandita

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Doha, May 23 (IANS) FC Goa striker Ishan Pandita, currently with the Indian football team in Doha for the World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers, said on Sunday that the experience of competing in the Asian Champions League (ACL) for his club recently will help him in the latest assignment.

India, who reached Doha on May 19, began their practice sessions on Sunday and will take on Qatar (June 3), Bangladesh (June 7) and Afghanistan (June 15) during their month-long stay in the Qatari capital.

“Yes, it will. The AFC Champions League (Group Stage matches) was a fantastic experience. To play at the highest level in Asia was a great platform for me. It enabled me to rub shoulders against the best in Asia and get enlightened as a player. Playing such matches helps and improves yourself as a player,” said Pandita, who has played in Spain for teams like Pobla Mafumet and Lorca FC.

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Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa had given a good account of itself in the ACL in Goa last month, drawing three games against Qatari club Al Rayyan and the UAE’s Al Wahda, while losing two others by narrow margins in the prestigious continental tournament.

On his maiden experience of sharing the forward-line with India captain Sunil Chhetri in Doha, Pandita said: “Yes, this would be the first time (I would be) sharing the field with him. Obviously, like any other young player, I’m eager to learn from Sunil. He is a great professional on and off the field.”

I’m sure he’ll help me develop my game – more so since we play in the same position,” said the 22-year-old Pandita, who scored four goals in the 2020/21 ISL season to help FC Goa earn crucial points on their way to the semi-finals.

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–IANS

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