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Johnny McKinstry's African bid falls at the final hurdle


So close: Johnny McKinstry led Rwanda to the final

So close: Johnny McKinstry led Rwanda to the final

So close: Johnny McKinstry led Rwanda to the final

Lisburn-man Johnny McKinstry fell just short of making history some 6,000 miles from home.

As coach of the Rwanda national team McKinstry led the Wasps to the final of the Cecafa Cup, but they were denied a first victory in 16 years as they lost to Uganda, just as they had done in 2003, 2009 and 2012.

The nature of the defeat was heartbreaking. A defensive mix up at a free-kick just 15 minutes into the game gave Uganda what turned out to be the only goal of the match.

Caesar Okhuti headed home Dennis Okot's delivery and although Rwanda created chances through Jean Claude Iranzi, Jean baptiste Mugiraneza and Jacques Tuyisenge they were unable to draw level.

"We are all disappointed that we were not able to finish our great run here at Cecafa with the championship trophy, falling just short to Uganda in the final," said McKinstry.

"It was a tight game from start to finish and despite having a large amount of possession, especially in the first half, we were unable to convert the few chances that we were able to create.

"Uganda made good use of a quick free-kick that we feel we should have done better with. The eventual goal scorer being left unmarked at the back post."

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Despite missing out on the big prize, there was still something to celebrate for 30-year-old McKinstry.

He was named as Coach of the Tournament after guiding his team to victory over all the other top teams, outside of Uganda.

"We defeated the host nation Ethiopia, who went on to finish third; Sudan; runners up at the last tournament and fourth this time around; and reigning champions Kenya," he said.

"We definitely took the difficult route to the final, so we can be satisfied with the performances throughout the tournament."

Rwanda's next scheduled fixtures are a home and away double-header against Mauritius next March in the African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

They have already been knocked out of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers after losing over two legs to Libya.

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