(Adds details, background, quote)
* Becomes South Korea's seventh foreign head coach
* Arrives in Korea on Monday
By Peter Rutherford
SEOUL, Sept 5 (Reuters) - South Korea have hired former Germany international Uli Stielike as the new national team coach, the Korea Football Association (KFA) announced on Friday, tasking him with restoring the Asian side's reputation and qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
The news comes just ahead of the Korean traditional Thanksgiving holiday and will be well received by football fans in the country, who were concerned that the search for a successor to Hong Myung-bo was dragging on.
Hong resigned in July following South Korea's first-round exit at the World Cup in Brazil, and the KFA's first choice to replace him, Dutchman Bert van Marwijk, turned the job down last month due to contractual issues.
After Van Marwijk's rejection the KFA widened their search and said they would negotiate with several coaches instead of just one candidate.
Lee Yong-soo, head of the KFA's technical committee, had recently expressed concern that the top candidates for the job were too expensive or did not have a good impression of what coaching Korea would entail.
The Koreans host Venezuela later on Friday with former international Shin Tae-yong and two other local coaches taking charge. They will travel to Tehran to play Iran in November as part of their buildup to the Asian Cup in Australia in January.
Among the club sides he has coached, Stielike worked with South Korean defender Kim Ki-hee at Qatar's Al-Sailiya.
"I remember that he was a good tactician who knew how to utilise his assets and respond to opposition's strategies," Yonhap News agency quoted Kim as saying.
"I think he will be great at molding different players into a team and making the most out of their talent."
The KFA had made it clear from the outset that their preference was to hire a foreign coach and Stielike becomes the seventh foreigner to take the top job.
The former defensive midfielder and sweeper won the European Championship title with West Germany in 1980 and played in the 1982 World Cup final, which the Germans lost to Italy.
He ended his playing career in Switzerland with Neuchatel Xamax in 1988 and took over as coach of the Swiss national team the following year.
In addition to coaching the Swiss and Ivorians at full international level, Stielike was also part of the coaching set-up at the German national team, working with the youth teams and as an assistant to manager Erich Ribbeck.
South Korea have enjoyed mixed success under foreign coaches, with Guus Hiddink and compatriot Dick Advocaat getting the best out of them while others such as Pim Verbeek, Humberto Coelho and Jo Bonfrere have failed to deliver.
Hiddink led Korea to fourth place at the 2002 World Cup on home soil, the highest ever finish by an Asian side.
Dutchman Verbeek was the last foreigner to coach Korea, stepping down after leading them to third place at the 2007 Asian Cup. (Editing by Ian Ransom)
- Sports & Recreation
- South Korea
- Korea Football Association