Elite Player Development

Coach McKinstry with CBF Academy players Santigie Koroma and Sulaiman Samura who were selected for Sierra Leone U-20 [versus Guinea in 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifying (Picture: Myrthe van Vliet)]

5 April 2014 saw first generation CBF players Santigie Koroma and Sulaiman Samura selected as part of the Sierra Leone U20 squad (the 'shooting stars') to face Guinea in the 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifier.

Santigie Koroma on his debut for Sierra Leone U20 [versus Guinea in 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifying (Picture: Myrthe van Vliet)] Santigie Koroma made his international debut, coming on in the 76th minute, with CBF team mate, Sulaiman Samura, on the bench. Coach McKinstry provides half time advice to Santigie Koroma (CBF) before his debut for Sierra Leone U20 [versus Guinea in 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifying (Picture: Myrthe van Vliet)]


The boys were selected by U-20 national coach Charlie Wright to be part of the 18 man squad after impressive performances on the training ground in the week preceeding the game.


Coach Mckinstry was on hand to watch the game in both his role as National Team Coach and Academy Manager of the Craig Bellamy Foundation.


Sulaiman Samura (CBF) warming up [before the Sierra Leone U20 versus Guinea in 2015 CAF U-20 first round qualifying (Picture: Myrthe van Vliet)]Coach McKinstry commented "It is a very proud moment for me and all at the CBF academy.  Having scouted these boys only 4 years ago, and worked with them every day since they were 13, it is thrilling to see them make their international debuts."

"It is a huge achievement for Santigie (17 years old) and Sulaiman (16 years) to be selected for the U-20 squad at such a young age.  It is a testament to their determination, and to the work of the Craig Bellamy Foundation and their dedicated coaching and teaching staff."


The boys represent the first CBF players to be selected for the national team, only a few years after the Craig Bellamy Foundation Academy was established in Sierra Leone. 


Sierra Leone recorded a 1-0 victory in the game.



Notes to Editors

  1. You can read more about the Craig Bellamy Foundation at www.craigbellamyfoundation.org
  2. You can also learn more about the personal background and development of Santigie Koroma and Sulaiman Samura.  
  3. See www.johnnymckinstry.com for a range of information - biography, press releases and photographs for press use
  4. To arrange an email or telephone interview, please contact  


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You can read more about Coach McKinstry's:

About Coach McKinstry

Coach McKinstry is a UEFA Pro Licensed Football Coach.  As Head Coach of the Uganda National Team, the 'Uganda Cranes' (2019 - 2021) he delivered a WIN from 2 in every 3 games and went undefeated in over 8 in every 10 games played.  This represented the highest 'win' and 'undefeated' rate achieved by a Uganda National Team Coach in over 15 years.  In his first 3 months in charge, he had led Uganda to win CECAFA 2019; had put Uganda top of their AFCON qualification group; and secured 9 wins and 1 draw from his first 10 games.  In winning CECAFA 2019, Uganda did so by winning all six of their matches, only the second time in Uganda's history that they had done so by winning every game they played in the tournament.  In AFCON qualifiers, under his management Uganda were the only team of all 48 nations competing to have conceded zero goals from open play.

He was International Manager and Head Coach of the Rwanda National Football Team (2015-16). 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 (2013-14). 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 was Head Coach of Saif Sporting Club, Bangladesh Premier League (2018-19); and FK Kauno Zalgiris, Lithuanian A-Lyga (2017-18).  He is a European (UEFA), American (NSCAA) and university qualified football coach. 

Coach McKinstry is a member of 'Common Goal'. Together members seek to support high-impact organisations that harness the power of football to advance the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Quotes: What the media say

  • Very few 29-year-olds have managed a national football team. None have done it while that country is being brought to its knees by Ebola.

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    Ben Smith BBC Sport
  • McKinstry led the team to their highest ever placing in the FIFA world rankings. They broke into the top 50, ahead of his native Northern Ireland.

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    Damien Edgar Backpage Football
  • Under his management, the team played attractive football, scored goals and racked up some important results.

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    Eoin O'Callaghan the42.ie
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