Born in Mapusa, Goa, Mandar was part of the youth setup at Dempo SC and was promoted to the senior team in the 2013-14 I-League season. While playing in the I-League for the Golden Eagles, Mandar was loaned out to FC Goa for two consecutive seasons as part of the ISL draft.
After Dempo SC were relegated to the 2nd Division League at the end of the 2014-15 season, Mandar played for them in the 2nd Division League playoffs the following season after which he joined FC Goa permanently in 2016. Dessai was sent out on loan during the 2016-17 season to the then I-League side Bengaluru FC.
It was after Sergio Lobera’s arrival, Mandar Rao transitioned from a winger to an attacking left back and was hugely successful in that role. His performances caught the eye of the national team coach Igor Štimac and he made his debut for the Indian NT in 2019.
Last season, Dessai won the league with FC Goa and with coach Sergio Lobera signing for Mumbai City FC for the 2020-21 season and beyond, it seems natural the fullback follows the manager who gave a huge fillip to his career.
Mandar has featured in over a 100 games for FC Goa and now joins Mumbai City FC on a three-year contract which will keep him at the club till May 2023.