Cameroon first choice goalkeeper, Andre Onana has left the ongoing 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar after a temporary suspension from the Indomitable Lions squad “for disciplinary reasons”, sources in Doha have confirmed.
The Inter Milan keeper featured for 90 minutes when Cameroon was edged 0-1 by Switzerland in their opening Group ‘G’ game of the tournament last Thursday but was not included in the squad for the team’s second outing against Serbia on Monday November 28.
Cameroon fought back from two goals down to level scores in the thrilling 3-3 draw against Serbia during which Saudi Arabia-based David Epassy manned the goal posts for the five-time Africa Cup of Nations champions in place of Onana.
Rigobert Song, a former Cameroon captain and now coach of the team, had told a press conference in Doha that the 26-year-old Onana had decided not to play the second game, but later said he was suspended from the squad due to indiscipline.
“We need to show respect and discipline…The (Cameroon) team is more important than an individual,” Song said in reaction to Onana’s absence during the Serbia game.
The coach who has participated in four World Cup competitions as a player did not expound on “respect and discipline”, but multiple reports have it that the coach and the goalkeeper disagreed over the latter’s goalkeeping style.
A sweeper-keeper, Onana had insisted on maintaining his playing style – being more of an extra defender like he did in their outing against Switzerland to the annoyance of the lead trainer who wanted a “more traditional” goalkeeping style.
Other reports hold that Onana who was an energetic wall for the Indomitable Lions during the play-offs for the Qatar tournament also opposed the fielding of central defender, Nicolas Nkoulou to start in the match against Serbia.
He had been used to Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui – a dependable defender who also played a major role in the qualifiers, but was not included in the squad.
There has been no official communication on why the defender who assisted Karl Toko Ekambi’s 124th minute goal that gave the team the qualification in Blida, Algeria.
Later on Monday, the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) backed Song’s decision to suspend Onana, though it was again reported negotiations were rife to convince the former Ajax Amsterdam shot-stopper to stay in Qatar with the national team.
Fecafoot said in a statement that it: “reiterates its full support to the head coach (of Cameroon) and his entire staff as they implement the federation’s policy aimed at preserving discipline, solidarity, complementarity and cohesion within the national team.”
With one point – just like Serbia, Cameroon is hoping to advance to the Round of 16 for the first time since 1990, but this is not going to be easy.
A gigantic task awaits captain Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and teammates as they face the world’s top-ranked team, Brazil in their last group game on Friday.
The Group ‘G’ leaders have won their first two matches at the World Cup and are already through to the Round of 16.
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