Belfast Telegraph

Lisburn man Johnny McKinstry makes history after taking over as Uganda head coach

Johnny McKinstry
Johnny McKinstry
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Johnny McKinstry has made history by becoming the first Northern Irishman ever to take charge of three national football teams.

The 34-year-old has been named as new manager of the Uganda team, signing a three-year deal.

McKinstry, who previously managed both Sierra Leone and Rwanda, is thought to have beaten the 2017 African Cup of Nations winning boss Hugo Broos to the job. Belgian Broos, who won the tournament with Cameroon, is said to have made the final three for the post along with compatriot Luc Eymael.

McKinstry, Fufa CEO Edgar Watson says, was chosen as he shares the associations' vision of becoming the top nation in Africa.

The Lisburn man is certainly taking over a side on the up after Uganda ended a 40-year wait by qualifying for both the 2017 and 2019 African Cup of Nations.

The Cranes are currently 80th in the FIFA World Rankings, above the likes of Israel and Luxembourg.

"I am honoured to be asked by FUFA to become Head Coach of the Uganda Cranes, and excited to work with an excellent group of players. Together we will work to raise the level of performances and secure results," said McKinstry.

"My objective will be to take the best of what is already there and combine it with both new talent and new working practices to improve performance. With effort and application we can maximise both individual and team potential in the months and years ahead."

McKinstry became the youngest international manager in the world when he took charge of Sierra Leone back in 2013, aged just 27. He guided the team to their highest ever world ranking of 50th.

In 2015, he was named head coach of Rwanda, who he led to the knockout stages of a competition for the first time in the African Nations Championship - a tournament solely for players representing teams in their own national leagues.

He was dismissed in 2016, much to his own surprise, and has since managed Kauno Žalgiris in Lithuania and Bangladesh side Saif SC, who he guided to their highest ever points tally and a fourth place Premier League finish last season.

McKinstry will take charge of his first Uganda match in under three weeks, when Burundi are the visitors in the African Nations Championship. Uganda lead 3-0 after the first leg of the second round knock-out tie.

The new African Cup of Nations qualification campaign begins for Uganda in Burkina Faso on November 11.

"Time is limited, so players and staff will we need to be proactive and work to our best to ensure we are prepared for the immediate challenges," McKinstry said.

"It is vital that we get to work straight away. While substantial improvement will take time to bed in, we will first focus on preparing for the second leg of the CHAN qualifier with Burundi which is less than 3 weeks away, and then the opening game of AFCON qualification away to Burkina Faso in six weeks."

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