The Gambia appoint McKinstry as head coach

Johnny McKinstry on the touchline during a match with Uganda

The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) has appointed Johnny McKinstry as the head coach of its men’s senior side.

The Northern Irishman, who has led Gor Mahia to successive Kenyan league titles, has been handed a two-year contract and will begin the role on 1 June.

The GFF has tasked McKinstry, 38, with securing qualification for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations.

His first matches in charge of the Scorpions will be the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Seychelles and Gabon on 8 and 11 June respectively.

The Gambia sit fifth in Group I after losing their first two games against Burundi and Ivory Coast.

BBC Sport Africa understands former England centre-back Sol Campbell and ex-Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure were also shortlisted by the GFF.

McKinstry has previous experience at international level following spells in charge of Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Uganda.

His predecessor with The Gambia, Tom Saintfiet, led the West Africans to the Nations Cup for the first time and then secured back-to-back qualifications for the finals.

The Scorpions reached the quarter-finals on their tournament debut at the delayed 2021 edition, where they were beaten by hosts Cameroon, and suffered a group-stage exit at the 2023 Nations Cup earlier this year.

Saintfiet resigned after their final group match, having spent six years in charge and improved their world ranking by 42 places.

The draw for the qualifying groups for the 2025 Nations Cup is yet to be made by the Confederation of African Football.

Qualifiers are expected to be held in September, October and November this year, while the dates of the finals in Morocco next year have not been confirmed.

Kris Kim at the end of his swing