Cameroon drop Onana for crucial AFCON match

Sports

Manchester United goalkeeper André Onana has been dropped from Cameroon‘s starting line-up for their Africa Cup of Nations Group C decider against Gambia in Bouaké on Tuesday.

Onana missed his side’s opening group game — a 1-1 draw against Guinea last Monday — after being given special dispensation to play in United’s Premier League 2-2 draw with Tottenham on Jan. 14.

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He eventually arrived even later than planned, missing the match, after being blocked at Abidjan airport due to bad weather.

The 27-year-old returned to the starting XI for Cameroon’s second game, but was at fault for two of Senegal‘s goals during an error-strewn display as the five-time champions fell to a 3-1 defeat.

Reports in the Cameroonian media ahead of the match that the former Ajax goalkeeper would be dropped by head coach Rigobert Song were ultimately realised as Fabrice Ondoa — Onana’s cousin — was named as the country’s starting keeper.

Nimes‘ Ondoa, a Nations Cup winner with Cameroon in 2017, started for Cameroon in Onana’s absence as they were held by Guinea in their first group game in Yamoussoukro.

Cameroon, despite earning just one point from their opening two matches, can still advance to the knockout stages with victory over Gambia on Wednesday. Failure to progress would mean a first group stage elimination since 2015.

Onana’s omission from such a crunch fixture is the latest chapter in his troubled international career.

He opted not to represent Cameroon at the 2017 AFCON to focus on his club career — ultimately missing out on a winner’s medal in the process — and was dropped by Song during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar due to a disagreement about the goalkeeper’s adventurous playing style.

Following a disagreement with FA President Samuel Eto’o in 2023, Onana retired from international football, before returning to the fold in December.

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