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Football coach gives up vacation to prep for World Cup qualifier

All News 11:08 July 15, 2016

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korean men's football team head coach Uli Stielike will not take a vacation this summer as he decided to prepare for the FIFA World Cup qualification starting in September, an official at the national football governing body said Wednesday.

A Korea Football Association (KFA) official said Stielike has decided to give up his summer vacation and will instead spend time checking on players in the country's pro football leagues. Both the top-tier K League Classic and second division K League Challenge have matches in August.

"Stielike is not thinking of summer vacation as he is focusing on the final World Cup qualification round," the KFA official said on the condition of anonymity. "Since there are K League matches in the summer, he will stay in South Korea and check domestic players."

For the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, South Korea are paired with Iran, Uzbekistan, China, Qatar and Syria in Group A. The Taeguk Warriors will open the final round on Sept. 1 against China at home and face Syria five days later on the road.

The KFA said Stielike gets about a month's worth of vacation time per year, but he hasn't fully rested even during his break.

Last December, Stielike departed for Germany and Spain for vacation, but during his leave, he visited Doha to watch the South Korean Olympic team in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship. He also watched midfielder Koh Myong-jin, who plays with Qatari club Al-Rayyan, and other South Koreans in the Bundesliga in Germany during his down time.

After returning from his vacation, the 61-year-old German led South Korea to the final World Cup qualification round. The country then faced Spain and the Czech Republic in friendlies last month.

"There is a possibility that Stielike might use his vacation between November and next March, since there are no national team matches scheduled in that period," the KFA official said.

Stielike took the South Korean helm in September 2014.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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