3.3 C
Manchester
3.3 C
Ottawa
Thursday, February 22, 2024

Andre Onana jets 5,000 miles to Afcon … to be left out of Cameroon squad

- Advertisement -

Andre Onana was exasperated by his omission and had to assuaged by El Hadji Diouf – Lee-Roy KabeyaAn exasperated Andre Onana had to be calmed down by El Hadji Diouf after the Manchester United goalkeeper travelled 5,000 miles in less than 24 hours to make Cameroon’s opening Africa Cup of Nations match – only to be left out of the squad.Onana had hoped to start against Guinea on Monday but ended up being left out of the squad entirely by Cameroon coach Rigobert Song, the latest twist in the strange circumstances surrounding his involvement in the tournament in Ivory Coast.The United No 1 was later spotted by journalists venting about the situation at Diouf and reportedly asked the former Liverpool and Senegal forward: “If I wasn’t going to play or make the team, then why did I come here on a private jet?”Onana also struggled to hide his frustration in an interview with Canal+ after the 1-1 draw at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro amid the risk of another collision course between the goalkeeper and the Cameroonian Football Federation.“I have a lot to say but I will not say it here because we are in competition,” Onana said. “Let me continue to be criticised, I am used to it. I do what is good for my country.”Cameroon had agreed to United’s request to delay the release of Onana so he could play for them in Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Tottenham at Old Trafford.Onana boarded a private jet bound for Ivory Coast immediately after the game only for the goalkeeper to endure a nightmare 16-hour journey after the plane could not land due to fog and was instead diverted 150 miles south to Abidjan, where it arrived shortly before 6am on Monday.The plane then made another attempt to fly to Yamoussoukro later that morning but again had to redirect to Abidjan due to bad weather, forcing Onana to complete the final leg of his journey by car.After a three-hour drive from Abidjan, Onana did not arrive in Yamoussoukro until around 2pm on Monday – just three hours before Cameroon’s game against Guinea was due to kick-off.Onana only managed to meet up with the squad three hours before kick-off following a frustrating journey from Manchester – Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesAs such, Song’s decision to omit Onana after such an arduous journey hardly came as a surprise to many, with the United goalkeeper’s cousin, Fabrice Ondoa, the Nîmes goalkeeper, starting instead. Devis Epassy and Simon Ngapandouetnbu were named as the substitute goalkeepers.Nonetheless, Onana – who has had a torrid first six months at Old Trafford – appeared to have been left visibly dismayed by his omission and it remains to be seen if he now starts Cameroon’s second Group C match against Senegal on Friday.Onana has had a fraught relationship with Song and the Cameroonian Football Federation president, Samuel Eto’o, the former Barcelona striker, and the latest developments could present fresh challenges.The former Ajax goalkeeper, who joined United from Internazionale in a £47.2 million deal last summer, was sent home from the World Cup 14 months ago after a falling out with Song.Onana subsequently announced his retirement from international football, only to return to the fold in September when he played against Burundi.It is understood Onana had mixed feelings about playing at Afcon amid a reluctance to miss several weeks of his first season at United and concerns he could struggle to win his place back in the team.United and Cameroon ended up striking an agreement that allowed Onana to join up with the squad at the 11th hour but that move in itself has gone down badly with some in Cameroon and raised questions about the goalkeeper’s commitment to his country.Sébastien Bassong is among those who have criticised the situation. “It’s out of order from both sides,” the former Tottenham defender told the BBC World Service.“It’s a low from Onana to even consider it. It sends such a bad message, not only for Cameroon, but for the respect people will have for the Africa Cup of Nations and for the way they should treat us, the equality.“I like André, I’ll always have his back when I have to, but when things like that happen, the nation, the pride of the country and the continent is way above an individual person. For me, he should stay home and be punished.”Onana likened the decision over his late arrival to having to choose between a parent and has insisted he is fully committed to Cameroon. “It’s like choosing between my father and my mother, but my country comes first,” he said. “That’s why I’m here. We are together. We are here to win [the tournament].”Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.

- Advertisement -

Related Articles

spot_img

Latest Articles