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Seoul: Uli Stielike has been sacked as head coach of Korea Republic, just two days after a 3-2 defeat to Qatar left the Taeguk Warriors’ hopes of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup hanging in the balance.

Stielike’s dismissal, which was confirmed at Thursday’s meeting of the Korea Football Association (KFA) Technical Committee, comes with the East Asians currently second in Group A of the third round of Asian qualifiers, seven points behind the already-qualified Islamic Republic of Iran, but crucially just one ahead of Uzbekistan in third. 

Only the top two sides are guaranteed a ticket to next year’s global extravaganza in Russia.

A former West Germany international, Stielike was appointed on a four-year deal in September 2014, and subsequently guided his new charges through to the final of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup which Korea Republic narrowly lost to host nation Australia.

However, recent indifferent results on the road to Russia 2018 – including a 1-0 defeat to China in March - have left Korea Republic’s participation at what would be a tenth FIFA World Cup finals far from assured.

The KFA have yet to reveal who will be in charge of the national team for the two remaining qualifiers - against Iran at home on August 31, and then away in Uzbekistan on September 5.