Amine Chermiti, the Tunisian flavour in the ISL

Mumbai City FC's Amine Chermiti has played in the Bundesliga, the Swiss League and the Europa League, and also helped ES Sahel win the Tunisian league.

"The level of the ISL is nice and you can compare it with some level in Belgium and also Switzerland," says Amine Chermiti (right).   -  H. Vibhu

Amine Chermiti gives a flavour of Tunisian football to the Indian Super League. The 31-year-old forward comes with an embellished professional career having played in the Bundesliga and the Swiss League, and with fair experience in France and Kuwait. Chermiti started with a bang, making his first season in professional football memorable by helping the Sousse-based side ES Sahel win the Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1 and the CAF Champions League as an 18-year-old. The striker also has the experience of playing the Europa League in a truly versatile resume for a professional footballer.

Now leading the fortunes of Mumbai City FC in the ISL, Chermiti is different from many of his peers in the trade and brings about his analytical faculty in good measure in assessing many aspects about the ISL and Indian football while talking to Sportstar.

Having played with so many teams in Europe and in your own country, how is the ISL experience turning out to be?

It has been a good experience so far. The league is quite interesting with a nice structure, and the quality of players is also impressive. Overall, the atmosphere is quite competitive. When I compare this with teams in Europe, the ISL certainly represents a good standard. I am enjoying playing here.

The Indian league is just six years old and is yet to make its mark on the world stage. So, for someone who has played for a considerable period in Europe, what made you decide to come to India?

Frankly, the level of the ISL is nice and you can compare it with some level in Belgium and also Switzerland. The quality of the Indian players is good and their level will keep improving as they keep training with foreign players who bring in the experience and tactical sense from playing with professional sides in Europe or Africa. The level of the league will thus keep going up.

As someone having the experience of playing with reasonably big European clubs, do you have to make a lot of adjustments in Indian conditions?

The Indian league is growing. The structure is getting better and so is the quality of the game. When you have more teams in the format, the tournament will become even more competitive. You see, it is not easy to keep in condition if you play only for six months and have nothing much to do for the next part of the season. So, having played leagues which are more competitive, I feel the ISL will also be getting better in terms of quality and competition as its format is expanded with the addition of more teams.

There is a lot of Spanish influence in the ISL. How do you look at this growing trend?

When we talk about Spanish football, it means being technically sound. When you have players and coaches who have good technical quality, it definitely brings up the quality of the game. If you see the top Spanish sides and the way they play, you can have a good idea of the technical soundness in their style and the way they play. In a similar way, when you start getting English players, they will add another level of quality to the teams and the tournament. It is good for the growth of the ISL.

Following the Spanish influence now there is an English club investing in the ISL. How do you look at the new development?

You have to look at different aspects to enrich your league. The Spanish players have been in demand once their style of football began dominating the world. The Spanish players started travelling all across the world. Now with the league in Japan growing, Japanese players are also seen in lot of the leagues across the world. We, in Tunisia, are crazy about football and a lot of our people follow the Indian teams, especially when the news of the performance of our players playing in the ISL gets reported in the media. This is how the league here will gain its reputation and people from many places in the world will start showing an interest in the Indian teams. The English interest is just an example of the fact that the ISL is growing. Once the league here starts getting more attention of the world, the Indian players will start coming in the radar of other leagues across the world.

You have spent enough time at the ISL, which essentially is promoted as a league that is aimed at developing Indian football. How do you assess your Indian colleagues in your and other teams in ISL?

The Indian players really impress with their professionalism and hard work. They try to give their best to the team, and with time I am sure they will progress and achieve a good level of competence. The Indian players need to learn the tactical philosophy, which means learning the tactical aspects of attacking and defending, like we have learnt in Europe. The education process is already happening with so many top-level coaches involved with different clubs. It is just a matter of time that the Indian players will be valued for their tactical sense.

Unlike many of the players in the league, you have done a major in mathematics. How is that helping your football?

Education helps you in taking the right decisions in life, especially for a footballer who has to play in different countries far from the family and friends. You face new languages and different conditions, which may be 180 degrees different from your native culture. In such situations, it pays to be educated as you can assess and adjust to the new conditions better. It definitely is an advantage.