Home Sports Football McKinstry named Gambia’s head football coach

McKinstry named Gambia’s head football coach

McKinstry was former Gor Tactician

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The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) has appointed Johnny McKinstry as the head coach of its men’s senior side.

The Northern Irishman, who has led Gor Mahia to successive Kenyan league titles, has been handed a two-year contract and will begin the role on 1 June.

The GFF has tasked McKinstry, 38, with securing qualification for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations.

His first matches in charge of the Scorpions will be the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Seychelles and Gabon on 8 and 11 June respectively.

The Gambia sit fifth in Group I after losing their first two games against Burundi and Ivory Coast.

McKinstry has previous experience at international level following spells in charge of Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda.

His predecessor with The Gambia, Tom Saintfiet, led the West Africans to the Nations Cup for the first time and then secured back-to-back qualifications for the finals.

The Scorpions reached the quarter-finals on their tournament debut at the delayed 2021 edition, where they were beaten by hosts Cameroon, and suffered a group-stage exit at the 2023 Nations Cup earlier this year.

Saintfiet resigned after their final group match, having spent six years in charge and improved their world ranking by 42 places.

The draw for the qualifying groups for the 2025 Nations Cup is yet to be made by the Confederation of African Football.

Qualifiers are expected to be held in September, October and November this year, while the dates of the finals in Morocco next year have not been confirmed.

After sealing a second Kenyan title, McKinstry described Gor Mahia as one of “the biggest and most storied clubs in Africa” despite being warned off joining K’Ogalo in 2022.

“People inside and outside of Kenya said ‘You do not want to take the Gor Mahia job now’,” he said in an interview on the club’s YouTube channel.

“They said it is so big a risk to your profile and your career.

“We came in at what the chairman said was the most difficult period in the last two decades; [with] a lack of players, having to rely on youth academy significantly, transfer bans.

“Through that storm we have managed to prevail.

“There are so many lessons I have taken from the last two years, but also a lot of joy and happiness.

“I am going to miss it but it has been one great experience.”

BBC
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