"Going forward we will be bidding for the under-20 World Cup, that is a natural progression," Das said during the Soccerex convention, adding that staging the mega-event in 2017 would lead to an increase in football's popularity in the country and boost infrastructure.

The U-20 tournament is held every two years and South Korea will host the 2017 edition. Das again stressed on the need to merge the traditional I-League and glamorous ISL in future.

"At some point we have to have one league, which will be profitable, which will be economically sustainable. We are working on it. We are talking to all the stakeholders. It will take some time. It is difficult to clearly outline when that will happen. But it will happen," Das said.

The eight-team Indian Super League, which claims to have the world's fourth-biggest attendance after the English, German and Spanish leagues, starts its second season next month.

Das said that the existence of two leagues was "a problem, but a good problem to have".

It was learnt that Indian officials told the conference that the country is also looking to train thousands of home-produced coaches to generate interest in the game.

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