Seoul - South Korea's national football coach Uli Stielike
pronounced himself satisfied Tuesday with his first full year in the job,
crediting his players with arresting a long slide in the team's fortunes.
South Korea reached the final of the Asian Cup in 2015 and
have won all six of their second-round World Cup qualifiers, scoring 23 goals
and conceding none.
"If I had to sum up the year in one word, it'd be
satisfaction," the former German international told a year-end press
conference in Seoul.
"Looking back on the year, I think we met our
expectations. And I am also grateful for the players' efforts. I tip my hat to
them for everything they did this year," he said.
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Stielike -- who played 42 times for West Germany -- has a
contract taking him through to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
He was appointed in September last year following the
resignation of Hong Myung-Bo, who stepped down after South Korea's
disappointing group-stage exit at the World Cup in Brazil.
Hong had been captain of the team that sent the entire
nation into raptures with its unlikely journey to the semi-finals of the 2002
World Cup, which included victories over Portugal, Italy and Spain.
Since then, however, the national side's fortunes have been
in steady decline. Hong and his squad were jeered on their return from Brazil
A banner unfurled by disgruntled fans at the airport read:
"Korean Soccer is Dead."
Things have improved under Stielike and the squad's 2015
match record reads 20 played and 16 wins, with three draws and just a single
"Our fans' expectations will continue to rise and we
will come under increasing pressure not to lose," he said Tuesday.
He also acknowledged that his team would face tougher
opponents after their likely advance to the third round of Asian regional
qualifying for the World Cup.
"But no matter who the opponents will be, we must not
change our philosophy," he said.
"We accomplished more than just a great win-loss
record. We were able to play an aggressive brand of football. I don't think we
should give up on all that just because we play a strong team."For
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