Stielike hoping to lead Koreans to first win in Iran
South Korea coach Uli Stielike hopes a tough trip to the Middle East to face Jordan and Iran will be the perfect opportunity to sharpen his squad ahead of January`s Asian Cup.
Seoul: South Korea coach Uli Stielike hopes a tough trip to the Middle East to face Jordan and Iran will be the perfect opportunity to sharpen his squad ahead of January`s Asian Cup.
Stielike took over in September after Hong Myung-bo resigned in the wake of a woeful World Cup campaign and guided his new side to a win over Paraguay and defeat to Costa Rica in October.
South Korea, who have been grouped with hosts Australia, Oman and Kuwait in the first stage of the Jan. 9-31 Asian Cup, take on Jordan on Friday before travelling to Tehran to face the Iranians the following Tuesday.
"Regardless of where we play, I am just glad to be back with the players after five weeks," Korea`s Yonhap news agency quoted Stielike as saying late on Monday before the team left for Jordan.
"These are our two final matches before the Asian Cup, and if we win these matches, it will be a huge confidence boost for our players."
While it is far to early to judge Stielike`s impact on the Koreans, they have impressed under the former German international and will fancy their chances of ending a miserable run against the Iranians away from home.
South Korea have never beaten Iran on home soil, and the relationship between the two became fractious during 2014 World Cup qualifiers after the Koreans complained about training facilities in Tehran.
"I know South Korea`s history against Iran on the road," Stielike added. "I think this will be our opportunity for payback."
The 59-year-old coach has injected a much-needed dose of confidence into the squad and been rewarded for picking young players, but he raised eyebrows by including struggling striker Park Chu-young and goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong in his latest squad.
Park and Jung both disappointed in Brazil, where the Koreans failed to win a game and were eliminated in the group stage.
"I`ve gone through some difficult times but I`ve tried to stay positive," said Jung, who conceded five goals in two games against Russia and Algeria before being dropped for the Koreans final group game against Belgium.
"As a goalkeeper, I think it`s important to communicate well with the defenders. I`ve got to do my absolute best."