Why Onana Was Suspended from Cameroon World Cup Squad
Andre Onana was suspended from the Cameroon team by head coach Rigobert Song after the goalie requested to sit out the team’s second World Cup group match, according to claims of an altercation between the two in Qatar.
Onana, an Inter Milan goalkeeper, began for the Indomitable Lions in their 1-0 loss to Switzerland in their Group G debut, but Devis Epassy took his position for Monday’s 3-3 draw with Serbia.
He wasn’t on the list of stand-ins.
The Cameroon football federation (Fecafoot) announced that Onana had been “temporarily suspended from the group for disciplinary grounds” as a result of Song’s decision.
Fecafoot, now headed by former teammate Samuel Eto’o, gave the 46-year-old coach “its entire support” as he launched a strategy “aimed at retaining discipline, solidarity, complementarity, and coherence with the national squad.”
The Cameroon camp has reportedly expressed displeasure with Song’s tactical acumen, with rumors that the coach and goalie have quarreled over Onana’s frequent forays outside of his area.
The former Ajax Amsterdam great had more touches than any other goalkeeper at the World Cup against Switzerland (61), some of which were outside of his area of responsibility, but his progressive strategy seems to be at conflict with Song’s.
The coach acknowledged that the player was crucial but noted that the tournament was challenging.
“I know what I have to do, and that is to ensure that the team takes precedence over any individuals.
“Andre wanted to step out and we accepted that position. In a squad, discipline is important.”
Onana started all of Cameroon’s games this year, having served a nine-month doping ban last year.
Devis Epassy, Onana’s substitute, responded, “You’ll have to ask the coach,” when asked by the news agency AFP if he will start Cameroon’s final game. He also stated that there was no trouble in the camp.
Cameroon rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn a point and maintain their chances of moving on to the round of 16.
Vincent Aboubakar, a substitute, was essential to their comeback. He evaded the offside trap to score in a spectacular manner with a scooped lob and then set up the equalizer three minutes later.
The outcome also put a stop to Cameroon’s unfortunate streak of eight straight World Cup losses, which began with the 2002 competition in Japan and South Korea.
“In these competitions you have to show desire for victory,” said Aboubakar.
“My team-mates played a great first half despite some small mistakes. We felt they [Serbia] were shaky and a bit tired. When I came on, I tried to make the most of it.
“[The] most important [thing] is to give the Cameroon people joy. What matters is the mindset and the collective spirit, and in that regard we played a great game.”
The Central Africans, who have one point after two games, must defeat five-time winners Brazil in their last group match on Friday (19:00 GMT) in order to advance to the round of 16.
Song, a former defender for Liverpool, claimed that Cameroon’s courageous second-half performance against Serbia was “part of our DNA as Cameroon footballers” and that they can shock the South Americans.
“What was important was to show that great fighting spirit and determination,” the 46-year-old added.
“We reacted as well as we could [at 3-1 down] to get back into the match. We are progressing and improving.
“It is possible to beat Brazil. We believe in ourselves, we did not come here to just go through the motions. Cameroon still has a contribution to make to this tournament.”