Coach McKinstry to lead Rwanda Amavubi for next 2 years.

FERWAFA and the Ministry of Sport have confirmed Coach McKinstry as the Head Coach of the Rwanda National Men's Football team for the next 2 years. (23 March 2016).

In a two year deal, the Coach will continue his work to develop the Rwanda Senior National Men's Football team, as well as the National u-23 team.

The appointment comes on the back of a number of key successes in Coach McKinstry's first year of tenure.

Coach McKinstry speaks to players ahead of extra time. [Rwanda V DR Congo, Quarter Finals - CHAN, Jan 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda.  Photo © Darren McKinstry 2016,]Coach McKinstry speaks to players ahead of extra time. [Rwanda V DR Congo, Quarter Finals - CHAN]  (Pic: ©

In June, after just 3 months in charge he led Rwanda as they secured their first competitive away goal in 4 years, overcoming Mozambique in their opening fixture of AFCON 2017 qualifiers.   In September 2015, he came close to taking points from Ghana in their second AFCON 2017 qualifier, only to be thwarted when Ghana scored an 87th minute free kick.

By December, just 9 months after appointment, he had led Rwanda to secure the runner's up position in CECAFA 2015, being named 'Coach of the Tournament' for his efforts.

More however was still to come, and in January 2016 he led Rwanda to their first ever appearance in the knock-out stages of a major international tournament, reaching the Quarter-finals of CHAN losing out to DR Congo who would go on to win the tournament.


Commenting on the announcement of his new contract Coach McKinstry said:

"A key factor in my decision to come to Rwanda a year ago was the potential that I saw to develop the Rwanda National team. In the last 12 months we have already begun to demonstrate what is possible. That journey is however only beginning and so I'm delighted to be able to have agreed a new two-year deal."

"A key part of me being persuaded to accept a new contract was that FERWAFA, the Ministry of Sport, and the Government more generally, were willing to agree to support my vision for the key steps that are required to allow the Amavubi to progress to the next stage of their development."

"Their confidence in my vision for what can be achieved is not only shown in the fact that we have agreed a two-year deal, but that they have been willing to agree to a comprehensive development programme - including training camps and match-time for players; and additional technical support comprising technical analysis and specialist fitness coaching."

"This commitment, combined with the overwhelming support we have seen from Amavubi fans in recent games, will provide our young squad of players with the best chance to further develop their potential."

"Progress however is never easy. In competitive games we will be tasked with overcoming opponents who traditionally rank much higher than us.   In friendly games, as with my first year in charge, we will choose to face difficult opponents and test new approaches, as it is only by challenging ourselves at every opportunity that we will be able to move to the next level."

"The coming two years have the potential to be a very exciting period for football in Rwanda."


Amavubi - Highlights 

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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

  • The figures do not lie. The six matches on McKinstry’s watch have been World Cup or Cup of Nations qualifiers. They have lost one.

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    the guardian
  • 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
  • Leone Stars shine with purpose... what is even more remarkable is what the young Northern Irishman has done ... the Leone Stars are ranked 50th in the world and seventh in Africa – higher than they have ever been.

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