South Korea appoint German coach

Uli Stielike (Getty Images)
Uli Stielike (Getty Images)

Seoul - South Korea appointed former Germany international and managerial journeyman Uli Stielike as the national team's new coach Friday, in a surprise move that completed its search for a foreign coach.

Stielike, who played 42 times for West Germany but has endured a mixed coaching career, has signed a contract until the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Korea Football Association (KFA) said in a statement.

He replaces Hong Myung-Bo, who resigned in July following South Korea's disappointing group-stage exit at the World Cup in Brazil, but some fans greeted the appointment with concern.

The German enjoyed a stellar playing career, making more than 200 appearances for Real Madrid and winning the European Championships with West Germany in 1980.

After retiring he coached Switzerland between 1989 and 1991 and most recently worked in Qatar, with two different clubs -- Al-Arabi and Al-Sailiya. He has also coached Ivory Cost and spent time with Swiss side FC Sion.

Stielike, who hadn't been linked with the job until Friday's announcement, has been tasked with rebuilding and then guiding the South Koreans to a successful 2015 Asian Cup in Australia in January.

The team was jeered by fans on their return from Brazil in the summer and Hong promptly left, with the KFA saying they would appoint a foreign manager.

Last month, the association came close to reaching a deal with Dutchman Bert van Marwijk but negotiations broke down over taxation and other issues.

Stielike, 59, will be South Korea's first boss from overseas since Dutchman Pim Verbeek stepped down in 2007.

Guus Hiddink, also from the Netherlands, has been the most successful, taking South Korea to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2002 with Hong as captain.

Fans took to social media on Friday to express concern at Stielike's appointment.

"I have doubt... and I think we have to watch how he will lead our team," one user wrote on the SNS portal.

Another supporter said on the same site: "I'm worried about his leadership because his style is probably behind the times."

But KFA officials defended the hire, saying Stielike would help them improve the structure of South Korean football.

South Korean defender Kim Ki-Hee played under the German at Al-Sailiya and praised his former boss.

"I remember that he was a good tactician who knew how to utilise his assets and respond to opposition's strategies," Kim, who now plays in the K League, told Yonhap news agency.

"I think he will be great at moulding different players into a team and making the most out of their talent."

Stielike will arrive in South Korea on Monday and will watch their home friendly against Uruguay before taking charge.

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