The City Lions have announced the appointment of Ian Sendi as their player-manager on a five-and-a-half-year deal.
The Ugandan winger a product of the once famous Kampala Kids League that dominated kids football in Europe replaces Varney Cole, who was switched to a different role by the club prior to the pre-season of 2017.
Sendi, 26, has been training with the City Lions since returning to the US in February and will now take on his first managerial role at the Gordy Aarmoth Stadium.
A club statement read: “Sendi brings with him invaluable expertise and know-how, with 10 years’ experience in high-level football.”
“A number of strong candidates were shortlisted by the club, but Sendi’s hunger, desire, and passion to succeed at FC Minneapolis, coupled with his experience, were key highlighting qualities in the decision process and the club believe they have the man to take FC Minneapolis forward and improve the club’s position.”
Sendi took charge of first-team affairs in early spring of 2017, overseeing his first training session last week ahead of leading the side for the very first time in the club’s first pre-season campaign against Tonka United, a game the City Lions won 3-2.
Since his appointment, Sendi has managed 6 games winning 3, losing 2 and drawing 1 and it is this record that prompted the club to finally confirm him as the club’s first player-manager.
His fellow players looked forward to seeing how he could cope.
“I think everyone thought Sendi would be a manager one day,” Amoah Kwaku, the former City Lions’ Center Back, told the club’s official website. “But I think it has happened sooner than he had anticipated.”
“Now he has accepted it, he has to learn extremely quickly. As a player-manager, he is going to manage more on the field than off it. That’s a great asset to have in his first job not just as a player because he can affect everything on the pitch.”
“He can manage situations as they happen on the pitch, and if he can score the goals he can, then it will be good for FC Minneapolis and good for him.”
Sendi first joined the City Lions in 2013 on a five-years-deal and has since earned himself the title of wing wizard. He was part of the squad that won the American Premier League in 2015 and currently the longest rostered member of the team.
“When I returned to the United States a few months ago, I was just focused on improving as a player and now that I am a player manager, I have to focus on both,” the Ugandan told the club’s website.
“I am honoured to have a wonderful team of assistant coaches, technical members, and well-behaved players. Now I must decide on what changes and developments I want to see happen here in Minneapolis and I will be counting on everyone to help me as I do this.”
The Ugandan also added that his main goal as a player-manager is to turn FC Minneapolis into a global brand and he hopes to do this by undertaking international tours, participating in international competitions as well compete in the international player markets so as to further build a team that is ready to compete at the highest levels.