U-23: Rwanda name squad to train ahead of Somalia qualifiers

Coach McKinstry names an U-23 squad combining existing talent with well as new players from Rwanda and abroad.


Coach McKinstry has named the 25 strong squad that will train ahead of the U-23 Championship qualifier against Somalia next weekend (25 April in Kigali).

The squad brings back together 14 players who were with the senior squad for the recent encounter against Zambia, as well as some new faces that have been identified by Coach McKinstry since his arrival in country just a few weeks ago.

McKinstry has added foreign based talent to the squad in
the form of Belgium based Salomon Nirisarike (VV St. Truiden); Italy-based Bonfils Kabanda (ASD Sangiovannese) and USA-based defender Yves Rubasha (Portland Timbers).

"I am working hard to identify new talent both within Rwanda and abroad.  I have been attending a number of league games and we have already identified some local players who have potential.  They will have the opportunity this week to demonstrate their ability - both for the U-23 team, but also potentially for the senior national team."


"We want to add wider experience to our already talented young squad so we are also bringing in a couple of young players from Europe and another from the USA who we hope will add further quality as well as experience from playing abroad.  This will benefit not only the team as a whole, but also each individual player they work to share skills and learn form each other"

Asked about his views on the level of ability within Rwanda and within the U-23 quad he commented:

"I am confident that many more of the players involved presently will go on to have the opportunity to further their career in european leagues, and the inclusion of these players who have already made that leap should give further encouragement and guidance to those young players currently plying their trade here in Rwanda."

As he prepared to begin training camp this weekend, McKinstry was clear on how the week would build into his wider plans for the development of football in Rwanda as a whole:

"The training camp this week provides another important opportunity to continue to work on the playing style and approach to the game that will run through all levels of the national team - from the Senior AFCON team, into the CHAN team and also the youth international levels."


The Opposition: Somalia 

Rwanda will face Somalia at home in Kigali on 25 April 2015, with the return leg on 9 May 2015 (in Nairobi, Kenya). Somalia are however something of an unknown quantity, having had a limited number of official games in recent years.  Mindful of this, Coach McKinstry has a clear vision for the week ahead:

"Our training this week will focus on our own approach to the game; and I am confident that if we play to the level we are capable of then we should be able to secure a good home result to take forward into the second leg to be played on 9th May in Nairobi, Kenya."


Rwanda Squad 

Olivier Kwizera APR
Marcel Nzarora Police
Yves Kimenyi APR
Emery Bayisenge APR
Faustin Usengimana Rayon Sport
Herve Rugwiro APR
Solomon Nirasrike VV St. Truiden (Belgium)
Janvier Mutijima AS Kigali
Celestine Ndayishimiye Makura FC
Michel Rusheshangoga APR
Emmanuel Imanishimwe Rayon Sport
Yves Rubasha Portland Timbers (USA)
Djihad Bizimana Rayon Sport
Andrew Buteera APR
Robert Ndatimana Rayon Sport
Yannick Mukunzi APR
Kabanda Bonfils ASD Sangiovannese (Italy)
Kevin Muhire Isonga
Justin Mico AS Kigali
Dominique Savio Nshuti Isonga
Jean-Marie Muvandimwe Gicumbi
Isaie Songa AS Kigali
Isaac Muganza Rayon Sport
Bertrand Iradukunda APR
Bienvue Mugenzi Marines


Coaching Staff: Johnny McKinstry (Head Coach), Thierry Hitimana (Assistant Coach),Thomas Higiro (Goalkeeper's coach), Moussa Hakizimana (Doctor), Nuhu Assouman (Physio) na Emery Kamanzi (Team Administrator)


CAF U23 Championship

The 2015 CAF U-23 Championship will be the second edition of the CAF U-23 Championship, the quadrennial youth football tournament organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the under-23 national teams of their member associations.

Rwanda begin their journey with opening games against Somalia, as part of the qualification phase of the 2015 CAF U-23 Championship. Rwanda will face Somalia at home in Kigali on 25 April 2015, with the return leg on 9 May 2015 (in Nairobi, Kenya).

Should Rwanda overcome Somalia they will face Uganda, with the winner of that fixture going on to face Egypt.

A total of eight teams will play in the final tournament, to be hosted in Senegal, December 5-19 2015.

Olympic Qualifiers

The tournament also acts as qualification to the 2016 Summer Olympics men's football tournament , with the top three teams qualifying.


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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

  • There is an almost missionary zeal to Johnny McKinstry's devotion to his job.

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    Daily Mirror
  • Johnny McKinstry is one of the most intelligent, level-headed and knowledgeable managers in the game today. Few can match his achievements by the age of 30, and fewer still the success he has enjoyed in the game.

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    These Football Times
  • McKinstry has become one of the most rounded and well-travelled British coaches at the highest level abroad.

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    These Football Times
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