India has gradually acquired a passion for soccer but it may still be a long way off from international acclaim.
Asia's third-largest economy has never made it to the FIFA World Cup despite a 1.3 billion strong population, high economic growth rates and a sports-mad public. It has only qualified once, by default for the 1950 tournament in Brazil, but ended up withdrawing due to financial constraints.
India shines in cricket and wrestling, but a lack of investment and local talent has limited the beautiful game's ascent, pushing audiences to foreign clubs instead. In the past, most fans had little choice but to support the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea or Real Madrid while skilled players typically sought opportunities abroad.
Baichung Bhutia was the first Indian player to sign a contract with a European club in 1999 when he joined Bury F.C, paving the way for contemporaries like Gurpreet Singh Sandhu of Norway's Stabaek.
But that's slowly changing thanks to the 2013 launch of the Indian Super League (ISL) or Hero Indian Super League, which aims to elevate Indian soccer to an international level and develop grassroots programs to groom local players. Its second season is currently underway, with finals slated for Sunday.