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Ex-World Cup star named assistant coach for men's nat'l team

All Headlines 09:59 February 06, 2017

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- Former FIFA World Cup star Seol Ki-hyeon was named an assistant coach for the men's national team on Monday.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Seol's contract will officially begin on March 1 and run through the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, should South Korea qualify.

Seol, 38, has been coaching Seoul-based Sungkyunkwan University since 2015, following a solid club and international career spanning over a decade.

Seol is best known for scoring the equalizer against Italy in the round of 16 at the 2002 World Cup, co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. South Korea went on to win that match en route to making the semifinals, their best World Cup performance ever.

He had 82 caps for South Korea with 19 goals and two World Cup appearances. Seol played for Premier League clubs Reading and Fulham during his club career, which also included stops in Belgium, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

Seol replaces Shin Tae-yong on the national team bench alongside head coach Uli Stielike. Shin was named the head coach of South Korea's under-20 men's team last November.

The KFA had initially sought to hire a foreign national to fill the vacancy, but decided to hire a native son after it couldn't find the right fit.

"We couldn't afford to wait much longer and we ended up picking from the pool of domestic coaches," said Lee Yong-soo, KFA's technical director. "Seol Ki-hyeon spent a large portion of his playing career in Europe and we believe his wealth of experience and knowledge in advanced football will come in handy next to Stielike."

Lee added that since Seol is relatively young, he can be "a big brother figure" for the players and help bring the team together.

South Korea are playing in the final round of the Asian qualification for the 2018 World Cup. They're in second place in Group A with 10 points after five matches, one point behind Iran, with Uzbekistan, Syria, Quatar and China trailing. South Korea will face China and Syria to resume the qualification campaign in March.

Only the top two teams from the group will earn automatic berths for the World Cup, while the third place team will must go through playoffs.

Seol will be formally introduced at a press conference at 2 p.m. Monday at the KFA headquarters in Seoul.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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