German coach confident of South Korea's participation in World Cup

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2016-04-12 10:38 Updated : 2016-04-12 10:38
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Uli Stielike [Courtesy of Korea Football Association]

German coach Uli Stielike has expressed confidence that South Korea would advance to the World Cup final in Russia, praising his team for performing well last year.

"We played exceptionally well in 2015, so we're full of confidence and heading into the next group stage with our heads held high," Stielike said in an interview posted on the website of the world's football governing body FIFA.

 "I'm very optimistic that we'll make it to Russia."

Stielike said he was "very happy" with the results he has seen sine he took the helm of South Korea's national team in September 2014, although his team finished second at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup after Australia in extra-time.

"The feedback from the players has also been very positive. It feels like the players and coaching staff work well together," he said, adding there are not many "negative things you can say about that performance" because Europe-based players were not used.

"We've clearly demonstrated that we're up there at the top with Japan and can be mentioned in the same breath as them," he said.

Stielikewe conceded South Korea's youth football is "not yet as physically strong" as South American and African counterparts, making it difficult to be among the best in the world.

The K-League is also "a long way behind", compared to the Japanese or Chinese leagues, he said.

"We still have a huge amount of work to do," he said, suggesting South Korea should try to use the national team's attractive playing style to spark interest in football.

South Korea only have one or two training sessions together for important matches, making it almost impossible to implement anything or to implement a consistent playing style, he said.

"We focus very strongly on video work and recovery, as the players go through a lot of stress to travel to us. We can only train properly ahead of major tournaments when we can bring the players together for two or three weeks."

Stielike said that despite the lack of reliable strikers, he is trying to see what the players can offer and adapt to the circumstances. "For me, it's important that the players feel comfortable in their respective roles or positions on the pitch."

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