Rwanda impress fans with impressive display against Kenya (Commemoration Cup)

Rwanda push Kenya over 90 minutes, but opening #Kwibuka21 Commemoration Cup game finishes 0-0 (6 June 2015).

The Amavubi have recorded an impressive performance against Kenya at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali.   Strong team organisation from Coach McKinstry's team was a key feature of the game, with Rwanda largely restricting Kenya to playing in their own defensive third, or seeking to rely on playing long balls over the top that Rwanda were able to deal with relatively comfortably.

First Half

The first-half saw Rwanda create a good few chances as striker Ernest SUGIRA continually tormented the Kenyan fullbacks. At 20 minutes, Amavubi captain Haruna NIYONZIMA had a shot cleared by Kenyan Brian Onyango.

It wasn't all one way however. At around 15 minutes Kenya made their only real impact of the half when Victor WANYAMA (Southampton FC, UK) hit the crossbar after Rwanda failed to close him down and allowed him the space to strike.

Although still 0-0 at half time, the home side had excited the crowd with a number of promising attacks.

Second Half

In the second half Rwanda were awarded a free kick in the 50th minute when Ernest SUGIRA was brought down just outside the penalty box. Emery BAYISENGE was unfortunate however to send the resultant strike just inches wide of the woodwork

By the 60th minute the Amavubi were well into their stride, playing some attractive football as they sought to control the game.

Kenya created their second and only other real chance of the game however as Rwanda were pushing to be more offensive and perhaps relaxed a little bit too much defensively - leaving a 1v1 situation at the back.  Amavubi keeper Emery MVUYEKURE however made a good save.

In the last 15 minutes the Amavubi sought to pile on the pressure and created several good chances, much to the delight of the home crowd - with the increasing cheers of the supporters providing an audible indicator of the building excitement.

The game however finished 0-0, with the Amavubi having played impressive football and pushed the visiting Kenyan side.


Coach McKinstry's thoughts on the performance

"The work ethic was pleasing.. it gave us a good platform to perform in the game... in particular as that wasn't our first eleven... We didn't want to play an A-team today and B-team tomorrow.. we have sought to balance things across both games..."  

"I have the feeling that had we converted one chance in the last 15 minutes, we might have got 2 or 3 because Kenya were down and tired."

"It was also excellent to hear the crowd getting excited by the chances that the Amavubi were creating in the second half and again in the final period as they pushed to try and secure a win.  Its important however going forward that we ensure we convert those chances into goals, and into wins."

On Kenya:

"They had really struggled to break us down... they got more and more frustrated, and the more they tried, the more they tired. I felt we had them on the ropes in the last 15 minutes..."

On the Amavubi:

"As for the Amavubi - we worked exceptionally hard, to the point where some of the players could hardly walk at the end of the game they had put in so much effort."

"The guys playing tomorrow know they have to put in the same effort, the same work rate, and get across the line by securing a victory against Tanzania."


Looking Ahead:

The Games this weekend as part of the FERWAFA's first Kwibuka 'Commemoration Cup' represent Coach McKinstry's first real opportunity since his arrival to work with the full international Amavubi squad.

Coach McKinstry will be using the tournament this weekend to assess players and to prepare for the AFCON2017 qualifiers next weekend.

Asked about his thoughts on the road ahead, Coach McKinstry said:

"I think overall today's performance shows that we are in good shape for the game coming up against Mozambique. If we can play like we did today down in Maputo next week, we wont be too far away from getting a positive result..."

The Amavubi have a number of full international, home based, and u-23 games in the coming year - including hosting CHAN in Jan 2016. These games will not only allow an opportunity to improve Rwandan football and coaching, but also to improve on the FIFA World Ranking of 94 announced earlier this week, which effectively represents a starting point for Coach McKinstry's time with the Amavubi.


Rwanda 'Amavubi' Squad 

Starting Eleven

Emery MVUYEKURE Police 
Fitina OMBOLENGA SC Kiyovu *
Robert NDATIMANA Rayon Sports * 
Haruna NIYONZIMA Young Africans (Tanz) 
Jean-Claude IRANZI APR 
Jacques TUYISENGE Police 
Ernest SUGIRA AS Kigali


Eric NDAYISHIMIYE Rayon Sport 
Faustin USENGIMANA Rayon Sports * 
Djihad BIZIMANA Rayon Sports * 
Jean-Marie SAFARI Gicumbi
Dominique Savio NSHUTI Isonga * 

Players maked with * are eligible for U-23.

Kwibuka21 Commemoration Cup.

The Commemoration cup, involving Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan is being held in Kigali, Rwanda on the weekend on 6 & 7 June 2015.  

The tournament is being used by many as a primer for forthcoming AFCON 2017 qualifiers next weekend.

Kwibuka means 'remember' in Kinyarwanda, Rwanda's language. It describes the annual commemoration of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.  Kwibuka21 is a series of events taking place in Rwanda and around the world.   For more information visit


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You can also follow @johnnymckinstry or @RwandaAmavubi on twitter.




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About Coach McKinstry

Coach McKinstry is a UEFA Pro Licensed Football Coach, with a number of successes across his 20+ year career to date.    He is currently Head Coach of Gor Mahia FC in Kenya

As Head Coach of the Uganda National Team, the 'Uganda Cranes' (2019 - 2021) he led Uganda to win CECAFA 2019 and over his tenure delivered a WIN from 2 in every 3 games, going undefeated in over 8 in every 10 games played.  This represented the highest 'win' and 'undefeated' rate achieved by a Uganda National Team Coach in over 15 years.

He was International Manager and Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team (2015-16). Within just 17 months he led Rwanda to a number of highs - including their first ever appearance in the knockout stages of a major international tournament (Quarter-finals of CHAN, Jan 2016) and finished runner-up in CECAFA (Dec 2105), being named 'Coach of the Tournament' for his efforts. 

Across 2013-14, he was Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team. Within just over a year, he had led Sierra Leone to their highest ever FIFA World and African rankings - 7th in Africa and 50th in the World (August 2014). 

He has also been Head Coach of Saif Sporting Club, Bangladesh Premier League (2018-19); and FK Kauno Zalgiris, Lithuanian A-Lyga (2017-18).  He is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach. 

Coach McKinstry is a member of 'Common Goal'. Together members seek to support high-impact organisations that harness the power of football to advance the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Quotes: What the media say

  • Under his management, the team played attractive football, scored goals and racked up some important results.

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    Eoin O'Callaghan
  • Very few 29-year-olds have managed a national football team. None have done it while that country is being brought to its knees by Ebola.

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    Ben Smith BBC Sport
  • It stands testament to his adaptability, hunger and talent ... that McKinstry has tamed the toughest challenges and risen to become one of the best young managers in football today.

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    These Football Times
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