Sierra Leone National Team

Leone Stars warming up. [Training Camp ahead of Leone Stars v Swaziland May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]

Coach McKinstry and the Leone Stars have completed their pre-match training ahead of their AFCON qualifiers against Swaziland tomorrow 

Mike Lahoud [Training Camp ahead of Leone Stars v Swaziland May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]The game will be played at the Somhlolo National Stadium in Swaziland (Sunday 18 May - 3pm local, 2pm BST, 1pm GMT).

Preparations ahead of the game have however not been without some difficulty after a number of the Leone Stars and team officials had been forced to wait a further 24 hours in Nigeria. Officials at Lagos airport had not permitted the team to board their onward flight on Thursday evening without transit visas for South Africa. This was despite assurances earlier that day from the South African Embassy in Nigeria that transit visas were not required for the short layover in Johannesburg airport before an onward flight to Swaziland.

A number of players not traveling via Nigeria had however arrived on Friday as planned and had begun preparations. Those players included: Ibrahim Marcel Koroma (Varbergs BoIS, Sweden); Sulaiman Sesay (ETAR FC, Bulgaria); Solomon Zombo Morris (US Quevilly, France); Michael Lahoud (Philadelphia Union, USA) and Ibrahim Kallay (IFK Lulea, Sweden). The remainder of the squad arrived on Saturday morning.

[Training Camp ahead of Leone Stars v Swaziland May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]

Speaking on the matter this afternoon, Coach McKinstry said:
"Away games in Africa are always tough and it is disappointing that our plans to have a training session yesterday were interrupted due to the team being delayed in Nigeria. The team have however rested this morning and have just completed a good training session at the national stadium this afternoon."

"The fact that the Leone Stars are now supported by a comprehensive back-room staff, including assistant coaches and physiotherapist, makes a real difference in these scenarios as we can maximise our efforts to ensure that the team are fully prepared for the game tomorrow."

Coach McKinstry and assistant Tom Harris [Training Camp ahead of Leone Stars v Swaziland May 2014 (Pic: Darren McKinstry)]With regards to wider preparations and the game against Swaziland Coach McKinstry said:

"Myself and my staff arrived yesterday to ensure everything was in order for the team's arrival. We have been received well and I would wish to extend my thanks to the Swaziland Football Association, and to their CEO Frederick Mngomezula and staff for their warm and professional welcome."

"I know that the Swaziland team have been preparing hard ahead of the game and will be making every effort in front of their home crowd. The Leone Stars are however looking forward to a good game tomorrow, and to bringing back a positive result for the home leg in Bo in two weeks time. "





Preparation Highlights 

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Notes to Editors

  1. The game is the first game (away leg) in the second round qualifier against Swaziland on 18 May 2014 as part of AFCON 2015  
  2. You can read more about the AFCON 2015 tournament and the Leone Stars fixtures.
  3. Johnny McKinstry was appointed Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team on 11th April 2013.  You can read more about his time in charge of the Leone Stars
  4. See for a range of information - biography, press releases and photographs for press use.
  5. To arrange an email or telephone interview, please contact 

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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 the Gambia National Team and Head Coach of Gor Mahia FC in Kenya (2022-24) where he won two Kenya Premier League titles (2023-24, 2022-23), and the 2023-24 Kenya Charity Shield, returning the club to the top of Kenyan football.

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

He was Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team (2015-16). Within 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).   

Coach McKinstry is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach and a member of Common Goal.

Quotes: What the media say

  • 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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  • McKinstry led the team to their highest ever placing in the FIFA world rankings. They broke into the top 50, ahead of his native Northern Ireland.

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    Damien Edgar Backpage Football
  • If one day, McKinstry reaches the very pinnacle of the game, few could begrudge him his day in the sun... no one could say he hasn’t earned it.

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    Daily Mirror
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