The Korea Football Association (KFA) have announced that Uli Stielike has been sacked as head coach of the senior national team, following their 3-2 defeat by Qatar in the latest round of FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers.
Perennial World Cup participants out of Asia, Korea Republic’s Russia 2018 qualifying campaign has been far from convincing, losing three matches from eight and in a tussle with Uzbekistan for the last automatic qualification spot in Group A.
A third-place finish in the group would make the route to the World Cup much more tricky. A two-leg play-off against the third-place team in Asia Group B would be required, with the winner then advancing to an intercontinental play-off against a team from CONCACAF in another home-and-away series for a spot at Russia 2018.
Stielike’s reign started brightly, highlighted by Korea Republic’s run to the 2015 Asian Cup final without conceding a goal, where they were eventually defeated by hosts Australia in extra time.
However, their current Russia 2018 campaign has seen their defensive solidity evaporate, conceding ten goals in Group A, which is tied with Qatar for joint-most in the group.
The KFA have not yet named Stielike’s replacement.
Korea Republic’s next match in World Cup qualifying is against already-qualified Iran on 31 August, before heading to Uzbekistan on 5 September in what could be a winner-take-all match in Tashkent.