Football News

“He knew what he had to do” – Rigobert Song reveals reasons behind Andre Onana’s Cameroon recall

By Harry Edwards

Published: 15:15, 30 August 2023 | Updated: 20:03, 31 August 2023

Cameroon manager Rigobert Song has revealed the reason for Andre Onana’s recall to the national squad after his international retirement last year.

Less than a year ago Onana retired from international football following a falling out with Song during Cameroon’s 2022 World Cup campaign in Qatar. After starting in their opening 1-0 defeat to Switzerland, Onana wasn’t even in the squad to face Serbia or Brazil, amid reports of a disagreement over tactics.


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Onana was temporarily suspended, officially for “disciplinary reasons”, with Song claiming the goalkeeper had asked to be removed from contention. After the World Cup, Onana announced his retirement from international football with 34 caps to his name, pledging to continue supporting the country from affair.

While Onana made no comments of his club career when announcing the international retirement, the decision will have been a boost for Inter Milan fans as it meant the goalkeeper would put his full focus on his day-to-day, with no tournament distractions. That happiness will have switched over to Manchester United in the summer, and perhaps may have even played a part in the Red Devils’ decision to sign Onana.

Brought in as David de Gea’s replacement, Onana has kept one clean sheet and made 14 saves in his three Premier League appearances for Man Utd so far this season. But they have suffered something of a blow with Onana being recalled to Cameroon’s squad for their upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Burundi.

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A surprise inclusion in Cameroon’s selection, manager Song claimed there was never a problem with Onana, and that his recall is due to the goalkeeper doing the right thing.

“It all depended on him. He knew what he had to do. If he’s on the list, it’s because he did the right thing,” Song told reporters.

“He’s one of the best goalkeepers, the door was always open. There was never a problem with Andre. Today, we are satisfied that he is reunited with the group.”

Cameroon’s final AFCON qualifier sees them take on Burundi in what is essentially a straight-shootout for a spot in the final tournament. Cameroon have the upper hand, ahead of Burundi having won the first meeting, so a draw will be enough to send them through. Victory would see Cameroon top the group, though there is no added bonus for that.

Should Cameroon win and qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, it will be a moment of celebration for the country, but Man Utd fans may not be happy. Should Onana retain his spot in the squad, Man Utd could be without their first-choice goalkeeper for over a month.

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations runs from 13 January to 11 February, but there will be an early meet up, which in the past has often been as far back as the start of the New Year. If that is the case, there are at least five games that Onana would miss, potentially spreading to eight if Man Utd advance in the cups.

The guaranteed misses would be the third round of the FA Cup and Premier League games against Tottenham (home), Wolves (away), West Ham (home) and Aston Villa (away), were Cameroon to make it all the way to the final. Then there’s the potential FA Cup fourth round and EFL Cup semi-finals should Man Utd get there. The Red Devils’ current goalkeeping option beyond Onana is Tom Heaton, with Dean Henderson sold to Crystal Palace.