FOOTBALL: McKinstry lands head coach role in Lithuania

Johnny McKinstry has been named head coach of Lithuanian A-Lyga club FK Kauno Zalgiris.
Johnny McKinstry has been named head coach of Lithuanian A-Lyga club FK Kauno Zalgiris.

Lisburn man Johnny McKinstry has landed his first club managerial role after he was named head coach of Lithuanian A-Lyga club FK Kauno Zalgiris.

The 32-year-old, who previously coached the national teams of Rwanda and Sierra Leone, is looking forward to the challenge of club management.

FK Kauno Zalgiris are in their third season competing in Lithuania’s top division.

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.

He has also been tasked to identify and develop talent to improve the club in the short to medium term.

“The opportunity to join a club such as Zalgiris who have ambitious plans for the future is one that was particularly appealing to me,” said McKinstry.

“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.”

McKinstry inherits a cosmopolitan squad consisting of players from Lithuania, Belarus, Brazil, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro and Spain.

And the local man is targeting European football for the Lithuanian outfit after a difficult last 18 months for them.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

McKinstry brings with him Alex McCarthy, who joins the FK-Kauno Zalgiris technical staff as Head of Performance, having previously worked with him during his tenure as head coach of the Rwanda national team.