Sierra Leone National Team

Alhassan 'Crespo' Kamara and team mates warm up in training [Training Camp, in advance of Equatorial Guinea, Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]

Northern Irish Man, Johnny McKinstry, prepares to lead Sierra Leone National soccer team into their final world cup qualifier against Equatoral Guinea (7 September 2013)


Solomon Zombo Morris  [Leone Stars Training Camp, in advance of Equatorial Guinea game, Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]In May 2013 Sierra Leone appointed the then 27 year old Northern Irish man Johnny McKinstry as national soccer coach of the Leone Stars.  This saturday (7 Sept) Coach McKinstry will lead the Leone Stars into their final world cup qualifier, against Equatorial Guinea.

Speaking ahead of the game Coach McKinstry said "We have prepared well. We have had a strong team dynamic in training and the team have been able to build on some of the new approaches introduced when I took over earlier this year"

Asked about the Equatorial Guinea game this Saturday Coach McKinstry stated

"It is good to have the squad back together in Freetown for our final qualification game.  Obviously we are no longer in a position to qualify for the World Cup, but make no doubt about it, the supporters here in Freetown will expect a performance and a result at home this weekend."  

"We are looking forward to the game, and to taking on Equatorial Guinea in front of a strong home crowd.  Our theme this week with the squad, and moving forward is one of ‘winning is a habit’, and that is something that we are committed to starting to do this week.  We are focused on finishing this qualifying series on a high, and look forward to a successful 2014."

As with his first two games in charge in June, he has continued to bring new talent into the squad - this time calling into the squad uncapped players Michael Lahoud (MLS - Philadelphia Union) and defender Hassan 'Milla' Sesay (MYPA, Finland). He has also recalled new faces from the summer games - including Sam Bangura, Abdulai Bell-Baggie (Tranmere) and George Davies (FC Johansen), John Trye (USA) and Solomon 'Zombo' Morris (France).

Michael Lahoud  [Leone Stars Training Camp, in advance of Equatorial Guinea, Sept 2013 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]"It is vital that we continue to develop the talent available to the Sierra Leone national team. Central to my approach since taking over has been seeking to identify new talent that can reinforce the considerable qualities already in the national team.

This is a vital part of our long term preparations, including the 2014 qualifiers for the next African Cup of Nations" said Coach McKinstry.

Reflecting on qualification for the World cup and the upcoming African Cup of Nations, Coach McKinstry said "My contract was initially for these final three world cup qualification games but I have always taken a long term approach and this is reflected in seeking to bring in, test and develop new talent as well as seeking to develop a clear playing style for the team that will allow them to build and advance.

I hope that the Ministry of Sport, the SLFA and the fans will consider that I have shown, even in a few short months, the clear potential in the national team."




Preparation Highlights

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Notes to Editors

  1. The game this weekend (7 September 2013) will be Sierra Leone's final World Cup 2013 Qualifier against Equatoral Guinea.
  2. The game is the third in charge for Coach McKinstry who was appointed in April 2013.
  3. See for a range of information - biography, press releases and photographs for press use
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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
  • 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
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