Cameroon suspend Onana, will play rest of World Cup without him

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Andre Onana. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Andre Onana. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Andre Onana, typically Cameroon’s starting goalkeeper, has been sent home from the football World Cup in Qatar for disciplinary reasons after a dispute with the team’s coach, Rigobert Song.

The 26-year-old was “temporarily suspended” from the squad, the Cameroon football federation said in a statement on Tuesday. The suspension will last for the rest of the tournament.

The federation said it had booked Onana a flight back to Milan, where the goalie plays for Inter Milan.

Onana also released a statement alluding to his disagreement with Song over team tactics, which had led to him being dropped for Cameroon’s 3-3 draw with Serbia on Monday.

Onana said he had tried to resolve the issues in an attempt to remain part of the squad.

“I have put all my efforts and energy into finding solutions to a situation that a footballer often experiences, but there has been no will on the other side,” Onana said. “Some moments are difficult to assimilate.”

He added he respected the decisions “of the people in charge”.

Onana had played in Cameroon’s opening game at the World Cup, a 1-0 loss to Switzerland, but was dropped for the Serbia game and did not travel with the rest of the squad to Al Janoub Stadium. Cameroon fought back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3.

Song said it was a risk to play with reserve goalkeeper Devis Epassy but insisted he had to take “strong action” against Onana, one of Cameroon’s best players.

“If you can’t fit in with what’s required to be part of a squad then I do think that you need to step up to the plate and accept responsibility for that because the team, the squad, is more important than the interests of any individual,” Song said on Monday after the Serbia game without going into details of his disagreement with Onana.

He added he needed all his players to “show discipline and respect”.

In his statement, Onana said he was disappointed that he was “not allowed” to be with the team at the Serbia game and denied that he had broken any squad disciplinary rules.

“I always behaved in a way to lead the team to success in a good manner,” Onana said.

Cameroon still has a chance of qualifying for the last 16 at the World Cup but needs to beat top-ranked Brazil in its final Group G game and hope that the result of the Switzerland-Serbia match goes in its favour.


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