The Federation of Uganda football Association (FUFA) Executive Committee has asked Johnathan McKinstry to step aside as Uganda Cranes head coach.
The developments were confirmed by the Federation on Tuesday, March 02, through a press statement.
It has also been confirmed that the North Irishman will step aside for a period of one month from March 02 to March 31.
In the meantime Assistant Coaches Mr. Mubiru Abdallah, Mr. Mbabazi Livingstone and goalkeeping coach Mr. Kajoba Fred will take charge of the team during this period.
The rest of the Technical team remains unchanged.
FUFA will use the period to assess and monitor the performance of the team.
McKinstry has been out of the public eye for a while now, ever since the Cranes returned from CHAN.
His most appearance was in Kavumba as Express FC beat Kitara FC 1-0 in a Uganda Premier League.
Why McKinstry’s sacking is inevitable
After interim head coach Abdallah Mubiru had masterminded a 3-0 victory in Bujumbura back in September 2019, McKinstry took charge of his first game in the victory over Burundi in Kampala to seal a 6-0 aggregate win that saw Uganda seal a spot at the CHAN finals where we have disappointed miserably.
Many still credit that qualification to Mubiru, likewise the strong showing that saw the Cranes lift the 2019 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala where we won all six games including defeating Eritrea 3-0 in the final.
Sandwiched in between CHAN qualification and the CECAFA triumph were two AFCON qualifiers which saw Uganda draw with Burkina Faso (away) and then defeat Malawi 2-0 in Kampala.
With those two games coming barely two months after McKinstry’s appointment, it is hard to ascertain that the North Irishman had already stamped his authority onto the team.
After a long period of inactivity between December 2019 and November 2020, due to the Coronavirus that also forced CHAN to be postponed, McKinstry who was now 14 months into his role with the Cranes, was tasked to ensure Uganda smoothly takes care of a lesser opponent in South Sudan in an AFCON 2021 Qualification double header.
An unconvincing 1-0 victory at Kitende was accompanied by a loss away from home (in Kenya). These were mixed results that many suggested, were not acceptable especially coming against a side that sits 74 places beneath Uganda in the FIFA rankings.
Some suggested that McKinstry be axed from his role but with CHAN just around the corner, it was hard for the Federation to oblige.
Then came the struggles at CHAN 2020!
“The difference between the teams is not too much at the finals and we go into it with confidence that we have the potential to go further and may be reach the final week of the tournament.” McKinstry was quoted just after naming his final squad for the task in Cameroon.
Those words installed hope to many Ugandans who have always been disappointed by their team’s exploits at CHAN.
With the hope sinking in, Uganda went on to triumph at the pre-CHAN tournament where they won twice and drawn against the hosts to finish top of the four-team log, further stamping the fact that this may be the tournament that sees us reach the last 8.
Indications that the finals may result into another disappointment, like it has always been in the past, came after the first game.
A draw against Rwanda, one of the teams that many anticipated we would gather three points off was sickening especially due to the fact that we still had the defending champions-Morocco to play in the third game.
The performance against the Amavubi Stars was so poor as the team failed to take charge of the contest and were clearly second best throughout.
It is a game that we could easily have lost and the Cranes had the upright to thank after it was rattled twice in the first half by a Rwanda side that looked to be in control from start to finish.
Then came the loss to Togo.
Heading into the game, the FUFA President flew into camp to try and motivate the players but that did not change anything in terms of inspiring them to a victory. The game was lost 1-2 leaving us on the brink of elimination.
With Morocco, arguably the strongest side in the competition, to come next, it would take a miracle for Uganda to go through as they required a win off the Atlas Lions.
Four days and seven goals later, McKinstry and his charges were beaten 5-2 and finished bottom of the log.
The performance in Cameroon has left a lot to ponder. From squad to team selection and in-game substitutions to how the team defends and makes transitions. Just like in Morocco (2018) and Rwanda (2016), we were just poor.
All those have been the same questions many have asked regarding the North Irishman ever since he took charge in 2019 and there are no indications that the situation will change anytime soon.
The fans back home are already calling for him to resign or be sacked and many are suggesting Abdallah Mubiru who took charge after Desabre left, be handed the role to take the team forward.
For McKinstry, it has so far been a reign that has been characterised with lack of trust on the side of the fans and other stakeholders and the elimination in Cameroon puts his job in a fragile situation.