After a disappointing run at the AFCON qualifiers, FUFA took the harsh decision to sack Uganda head coach Johnathan McKinstry. Fans, pundits and media alike are eagerly awaiting the appointment of the next man to take the Cranes forward.
McKinstry’s exit may have come as a shock for many Ugandan football fans. The Northern Irishman managed to produce a successful career before his appointment at the Cranes, seeing him help Sierra Leone to their highest FIFA rankings, and helping Rwanda record their first away victory in four years.
The man from Northern Ireland also enjoyed club success with Lithuanian A-Lyga outfit Kauno Žalgiris and Bangladeshi Premier League team Saif SC. At both of these clubs, McKinstry managed to record impressive results.
In Lithuania, he managed to help Kauno Žalgiris to their first win over rivals Jonova in six games, while in his time in Bangladesh, he managed to lead Saif SC to their highest points tally, most number of wins in a season, and most number of goals scored in a season. McKinstry was further the manager that led Saif SC to their most number of wins under a single manager.
His exploits in football across the globe is what got the attention of FUFA, and after reporting a vision that was shared by the Ugandan football association, he was hired in 2019. McKinstry enjoyed great success in Uganda, and aside from a poor run in the AFCON, turned in a positive record with some impressive results.
With the Cranes, McKinstry managed a 67% win record, winning 12 out of 18 games. He drew three encounters, and ended up losing only three, most of which came in the disappointing AFCON run. If we look at his record alone, many would argue that this was not enough to sack the well experienced manager.
But one important part of the vision he shared with FUFA was that he had plans to return Uganda to the AFCON, and judging by the hasty decision to part ways with him, this was a top priority that FUFA saw to be non-negotiable.
Now however, the Cranes are left managerless, with reports of shortlisted managers yet to reach media outlets. This may be somewhat worrying to some, as the Cranes face an encounter with South Africa in a matter of days. Currently neither bookmakers in Uganda, nor South African betting sites have released odds for the event, which is bound to be an interesting encounter with the two teams facing similar predicaments.
Unfortunately, there isn’t even speculation as to who will take the Cranes forward. The question remains, will it be a local man, with inside knowledge of Ugandan football, or will it be an outside presence? What we do know is that new Bafana appointment, Belgian Hugo Bross, was on a shortlist of coaches to manage Uganda when McKinstry got the job, so FUFA may be feeling as if they missed out an opportunity to secure the services of the Belgian who has already proved himself in Africa, winning the 2017 AFCON with Cameroon.