Cameroon: Onana set to miss AFCON opener

André Onana is set to miss Cameroon's first game at the AFCON 2023 on January 15 because he wants to maximise his playing time for Manchester United. An agreement was reached between United and the Cameroon Football Federation to allow Onana delay in joining his international teammates after a game against Tottenham Hotspurs.

Onana had initially been granted a pemission to skip the national team's training camp in Saudi Arabia and team up with the rest of the team in Ivory Coast after the FA Cup win against Wigan on Monday to advance to the next round. But it appears that his stay at Old Trafford will be further delayed as he hopes to be fit for the Spurs game and might have communicated according to a close source that he is willing to skip Cameroon's AFCON opening game against Guinea.

Cameroon will later trade tackles with defending champions Senegal on January 19 and Gambia on January 23. With the top two sides advancing automatically to the next round but according to the source, Onana might eventually not partake in the competition should Cameroon lose its opening group game against Guinea.

“For the second match against Senegal, the defending champions will be favourites. If Cameroon were to lose the first match to Guinea, should he really have to play versus Senegal if they are just going to lose anyway?” the source queried.

Andre Onana in Cameroon colours
© Iconsport

Onana and Eto'o still at loggerheads?

Fecafoot were thought to be mindful of the goalkeeper’s commitment to his club as Onana had prioritize his stay with United because of fears of losing a first team place.

It was said that the only reason why Onana even agreed to be selected for AFCON in the first place was to due “pressure from the country's president.” According to the source, Onana is the country’s biggest sporting star and there was concerted pressure from the president and Cameroonian FA for him to play in the crucial qualifying match against Burundi in September, a game he honoured and they won.

However, according to the iNews report, Onana and the football federation president Samuel Eto'o and national team coach Rigobert Song are not on talking terms since the events that led to his abrupt retirement during the World Cup in Qatar. The source further claimed that the two men can't be reconciled just yet as they “cannot be in the same room.”

“André is determined to play for his country, he wouldn't be here if he wasn't. But United is his priority. For the second match against Senegal, they (Cameroon team) will be the priority. If Cameroon lost the first match against Guinea, should they really play Senegal if they are certain they will lose anyway?” the source revealed in comments reported by iNews.

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Rotimi Akindele

Rotimi Akindele is a Sports Journalist with almost two decades' experience. He is a TV and radio host, commentator and writer who has covered major sporting events across the globe. Akindele's sports content has been listened to and read by a global audience. He is a well-known figure within Nigeria and the African football scene.