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German set to become longest-serving nat'l football team coach for Korea

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Published : 2017-03-17 17:41
Updated : 2017-03-17 17:41

Former German international coach Uli Stielike is set to become the longest-serving head coach for the South Korean men's national football team following the FIFA World Cup qualifier against China next week.

Stielike has been leading South Korea since Sept. 24, 2014. He will surpass former Huh Jung-moo's record of 911 days should he retain his job until next Friday, one day after South Korea squares off with China in the final Asian qualification round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Huh, now deputy commissioner for the K League, previously led the national team from Jan. 1, 2008, to June 10, 2010. He also holds the longest cumulative time serving as the national team boss for 54 months, as the South Korean also guided the Taeguk Warriors from 1998 to 2000. 

In this file photo taken on March 13, 2017, South Korea men's national football team head coach Uli Stielike speaks to reporters during a press conference in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Stielike, however, will become the longest-serving head coach in a single term once he completes the World Cup qualifier in Changsha, China.

Stielike, who also had stints with the Ivory Coast and Swiss national teams, has so far achieved a runners-up finish with South Korea at the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup and led the national team to the East Asian Football Cup title in 2015.

The 62-year-old coach has been in trouble recently after South Korea struggled in the final qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. South Korea are in Group A, where they are also paired with Iran, Uzbekistan, Qatar, China and Syria.

After a 1-0 defeat to Iran, in addition to two nail-biting home victories against China and Qatar with a scoreless draw against Syria, Stielike was put in the hot seat at the end of last year.

There were even rumors that he could be sacked by the Korea Football Association.

Stielike, however, beat Uzbekistan 2-1 at home and managed to cool down the critics against him. He could be the third coach ever to manage South Korea from regional qualifiers to the World Cup.

The former Real Madrid and Borussia Monchengladbach star is contracted to the KFA until the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia if South Korea qualifies for the quadrennial tournament.

South Korea currently have 10 points with three wins, one draw and one loss in Group A. They are one point behind the group leaders Iran with three wins and two draws. Uzbekistan are third with nine points after collecting three wins and two losses.

Only the top two teams directly advance to the World Cup in Russia, while third place team must go through playoff rounds to earn its spot. (Yonhap)