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Stielike will stay despite poor performance

Korea’s football governing body said Monday the men’s national team head coach Uli Stielike will remain at the helm despite an uninspiring World Cup qualifying performance last month.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said its technical committee decided to keep Stielike as the national team boss after discussing his status in a meeting at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. The technical committee, led by KFA Vice President Lee Yong-soo, reserves the right to hire and fire national team coaches.

Stielike has been in hot water following the national team’s mediocre performance in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Korea are in Group A, along with Iran, Uzbekistan, Syria, China and Qatar.

The Taeguk Warriors fell 1-0 to China on March 23, which was only Korea’s second defeat to the Asian neighbor in 32 meetings. Stielike’s side managed to collect a 1-0 victory against Syria at home five days later, but fans here have questioned the German coach’s tactical acumen. Korea also have yet to score or win away from home in the final round.

With three matches remaining, Korea are currently second in Group A, but they are not in a safe position to grab the ticket to the 2018 World Cup. Korea have 13 points from four wins, one draw and two losses, four points behind the leaders Iran and one point above No. 3 Uzbekistan.

Only the top two teams in the group directly advance to the World Cup in Russia, while the third-place team must go through playoff rounds to enter the world football’s showpiece event. Critics of Stielike have been saying that now is the time the KFA should sack him, since the men’s team still has over two months before the next qualification match.

Korea’s next match is against Qatar in Doha on June 13. The national team will then host Iran on Aug. 31 before taking on Uzbekistan five days later on the road.

U-20 football team reveals names on 25-man squad

The Korean U-20 football team head coach Shin Tae-yong on Monday announced a 25-man provisional squad for the FIFA competition at home.

The 25 players, including FC Barcelona prospects Lee Seung-woo and Paik Seung-ho, will assemble next Monday at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul, to begin preparations for the U-20 World Cup. Shin needs to submit the 21-man final entry list to FIFA by May 8.

Shin, who took the helm last November, said he will pick the final members for the U-20 World Cup from the 25-man provisional squad unless anything unexpected, such as injuries, occur during preparations. For the U-20 World Cup, the teams can actually file a 35-player preliminary roster with FIFA, and the replacement players must come from that list.

“It’s possible to pick the players who are not on this list if some of them are injured,” Shin said during a press conference at the Korea Football Association (KFA) headquarters in Seoul. “But I hope that situation does not happen.”

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