Coach McKinstry joins Lithuanian A-Lyga club FK Kauno Zalgiris as Head Coach (July 2017).
Coach McKinstry has joined Lithuanian A-Lyga club FK Kauno Zalgiris as Head Coach
Playing out of the 9,180 capacity Darius and Girėnas Stadium, FK Kauno Zalgiris are in their third season competing in Lithuania’s top division.
Coach McKinstry joins the club as part of their ambitious plans to build not only the capacity of the first team squad, but also the club as a whole as they aim to become a regular competitive force within Lithuanian football.
Following an impressive first season in A-Lyga in 2015, finishing in 5th position (1 place outside of Europa League qualification), the last 18 months have proved to be a challenge on the field for Zalgiris.
The Kaunas based outfit currently need to improve their performance to ensure their continued presence within A-Lyga beyond the current season and have turned to Coach McKinstry to help them both deliver on that immediate objective, but also to identify and develop talent to improve the club in the short to medium term.
Coach McKinstry inherits a cosmopolitan squad consisting of players from Lithuania, Belarus, Brazil, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro and Spain.
Coach McKinstry brings with him Alex McCarthy who joins the FK-Kauno Zalgiris technical staff as Head of Performance, having previously worked with Coach McKinstry during his tenure as Head Coach of the Rwanda National Team.
Commenting on the appointment Coach McKinstry said:
“The opportunity to join a club such as Zalgiris who have ambitious plans for the future is one that was particularly appealing to me.
The results of Lithuanian clubs in European competitions over recent weeks has demonstrated that the league is on an upwards curve, and as a club we are eager to not only keep pace with our domestic rivals, but to strive forward over the coming years.
The immediate focus is of course to work tirelessly to ensure the club’s position within A-Lyga beyond the current season. The coming weeks and months will require extensive effort and commitment from all involved. Supporters can be assured that we will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of this objective.
I have always said that I am drawn towards challenges and the chance to play a leading role in developing not only a competitive first team in Kaunas, but also to influence the development of the club from the bottom up in terms of long term strategy was a challenge that attracted my attention.”
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About Coach McKinstry
Johnny McKinstry is a UEFA Pro Licensed Football Coach. He was International Manager and Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team from March 2015 - August 2016. Within just 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.
He was Head Coach of the Sierra Leone National Men's Football team from April 2013 - September 2014. 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). From Jan 2010 - Dec 2014 he set up and developed the Craig Bellamy Elite Soccer Academy in Sierra Leone - placing elite young players in Europe, Asia and North America. He is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach.
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