Rwanda sends home football head coach McKinstry

Rwanda has sent home the head coach of its national football team, Johnny McKinstry, barely five months after renewing his contract.

Rwanda has sent home the head coach of its national football team, Jonathan Brian McKinstry, barely five months after renewing his contract. PHOTO | BRIAN MUGUME 

BY Ivan R. Mugisha

IN SUMMARY

  • The Amavubi Stars are said to have had a string of “bad performance” which is said to have led him to be fired.
  • Rwanda is ranked 121st globally by Fifa down from 68th when McKinstry took over the national team.

*Story updated with comments for McKinstry.

Rwanda has sent home the head coach of its national football team, Johnny McKinstry, barely five months after renewing his contract.

The Amavubi Stars are said to have had a string of “bad performance” which is said to have led him to be fired.

“We did not play well during important games. He has not left the team in good shape or position and it was inevitable that we part ways,” Guy Rurangayire, an official in the ministry of sports and culture told The EastAfrican on Thursday.

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“Although he had signed a new renewable contract in March, it was not guaranteed that he would stay for that long, especially if you look at the games we played. We had important games we lost in this short period,” he added.

The 30-year old Northern Irishman was hired in March 2015 on a one-year renewable contract, taking over from Englishman Stephen Constantine.

His sacking follows the recent appointment of a new Permanent Secretary in the Sports ministry, Lt Col. Patrice Rugambwa who is said to be focused on bringing “change to Rwanda’s football.”

Under McKinstry, Rwanda failed to win the 2016 African Nations Championship (Chan) which was held in Kigali, and has been unsuccessful in qualifying for both the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon and 2018 Fifa World Cup.

Rwanda is ranked 121st globally by Fifa down from 68th when McKinstry took over the national team.

However, in a statement on his website, McKinstry said that he had delivered some of Rwanda’s best performances – and that the specific reasons behind the decision to fire him were not made fully clear to him.

“Given our performance to date I am therefore both surprised and disappointed by the announcement today (Thursday), and that myself and the team will not be able to finish what we started.

“Had we been able to do so this young team, assembled since the decision to dispense with the use of foreign naturalised players just prior to my appointment, would certainly go on to achieve even greater success than it has already done,” he said.

The headhunt for a new head coach is already on, according to Rurangayire, while current assistant head coach, Jimmy Mulisa remains in charge in the meantime.

Rwanda qualified for its first Afcon in 2004, where it was eliminated in the group stages. Since then, the country has hired and fired over 10 head coaches, most of whom do not complete two years of service.

*Story updated with comments for McKinstry.

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