Uganda has appointed Northern Irishman Johnny McKinstry as their coach for the next three years.
The 34 year old replaces French tactician Sebastien Desabre who parted ways with Uganda at the end of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
“There is no doubt the Uganda job is one of the best international jobs in Africa in terms of the direction we are going and level of competitiveness and ambition,” said McKinstry.
“The quality of players that I will now have the opportunity to work with are a group of players I feel we can achieve a lot with.”
McKinstry, who has previously coached Sierra Leone and Rwanda in Africa, was most recently in charge of SAIF Sporting Club in Bangladesh.
He will be assisted by Abdullah Mubiru until McKinstry names his technical team in the near future.
He is expected to qualify Uganda to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon with the Cranes’ Nations Cup qualifying campaign beginning in November as they contest Group B alongside Burkina Faso, Malawi and either South Sudan or Seychelles.
McKinstry will also be expected to secure the Cranes’ maiden qualification to a World Cup, with Qatar 2022 the most immediate target.
“We want to go to the World Cup – that is not easy, it is very difficult,” he said.
“I want it to happen in 2022 but it may not happen in 2022 but in 2026 but I have that burning desire to take this team to the world stage.”
McKinstry was named on the Uganda shortlist in 2017 to replace Serbian Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic, only for Desabre to be appointed instead.
Introduced to international football in April 2013 at the tender age of 27 years, McKinstry – then the youngest national team coach – led Sierra Leone into the top 50 teams on the Fifa world rankings and seventh in Africa the following year.
He later guided Rwanda to the final of the 2015 Cecafa East and Central African Championships in 2015 while also achieving the country’s highest placing at major tournament the following year.
In 2016, the Amavubi reached the quarter-finals of the Africa Nations Championship Chan, losing to eventual winners DR Congo 2-1 in extra-time.
McKinstry holds a Uefa Pro Licence and has coached on four continents including Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
He set up and developed the Craig Bellamy Elite Soccer Academy in Sierra Leone in 2010 and worked as interim head coach of the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana prior to that.