Belfast Telegraph

Lisburn man Johnny McKinstry one step away from making history in African football

By Stuart McKinley

Lisburn man Johnny McKinstry stands one step away from making history in African football.

As coach of Rwanda he has led the north African nation to the final of the CECAFA Cup.

And if he can guide them to victory over Uganda today not only will McKinstry wipe out the hurt of three previous final defeats against the 'Cranes', it will be only the second time that Rwanda have lifted the trophy, with their only other triumph coming 16 years ago.

Rwanda beat host nation Ethiopia and then Somalia in the group stages.

Since then they have needed two penalty shoot-out victories to get them through to the final, first against Kenya in the quarter-finals before Thursday's dramatic victory over Sudan.

"When Sudan managed to score from a rare attack in extra time, many teams would have crumbled," said McKinstry.

"Being so tired, and having worked so hard, to concede at that point can be a hammer blow.

"The players are developing a never-say-die attitude and they kept fighting to get the goal we needed."

Uganda reached the decider via a penalty shoot-out too, ending Ethiopia's chances of winning on home soil while boosting their own hopes of adding to their record number of 13 victories in the competition.

Uganda's last success came in 2012, a year after they beat Rwanda in their most recent final appearance.

The Cranes also beat Rwanda in the 2003 and 2009 deciders and McKinstry is determined to do all he can to make sure they don't make it four out of four against his today.

"We now will do everything we can to get the players in the best possible physical condition for the final," said McKinstry.

" We know it will take another huge effort from everyone, but we know the players will give it everything they have."

Belfast Telegraph

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