What does it take to make McKinstry’s squad?

Uganda Cranes team that started the game against Ethiopia at the Bahir Dar stadium, Ethiopia

Uganda is endowed with tremendous talent, and summoning a national team squad is one of the hardest jobs as the head coach especially with fans who want to see their country do well at any cost.

The major cause for headache is the scrutiny that comes with every squad summoned for a particular game, as ‘social media coaches‘ hold their independent theory of who could have fitted in where and who could have been left out of the team.

It is a situation that new Cranes head coach Jonathan McKinstry has faced already in his tender career at the helm of the Cranes.

As he prepares to tackle his first competitive game with the Cranes in the 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou, it will be interesting to see who McKinstry together with whoever will be his assistant name or drop.

And speaking this week during the launch of the 2021 qualification campaign, the 34-year-old highlighted on what he considers when summoning players for national duty.

“The essence of choosing a national team side is picking a group of players who can come together effectively on the field of play, do the job and get the result that you desire,” McKinstry noted.

The Irishman has already promised a certain brand of football; ‘Klopp-like’ to be precise and it was on show, though in bits in his first game in charge, against Ethiopia in an international friendly.

The challenge is he has not had enough time with the boys to lay down his expectations and probably express his demands both physically and technically when compared to his predecessors.

McKinstry has had only two days of training with the over 20 foreign-based players before the Ethiopia game, while he has been involved with the local-based players on the sidelines as they prepared for the return leg against Burundi in the CHAN qualifiers but the team was majorly under caretaker Abdallah Mubiru.  

However, according to McKinstry, coaching a national team is like solving a jig-saw puzzle, and according to the contact and information gathered about the players both in the league and outside, he has the right pieces in place to solve the puzzle.

“For me, the focus is more on the attitude of the player, the way he goes about his work ethic, commitment to training and ability to listen and take on instructions well.”

“And with the contact I have had with the players so far, a lot of them are my type of players and individuals who will enjoy a lot working with me and equally me working with them,” McKinstry continued.

A couple of question marks do linger about a number of players especially those who featured for the cranes in Egypt, with some still held accountable for their role in the players’ strike during the tournament.

Does the appointment and promised backing of McKinstry and his ideas by FUFA provide a lifeline and a new lease of life to the way Cranes summons are handled? only time will tell.  

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