Cameroon have dropped Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana in their must-win Africa Cup of Nations clash against Gambia this evening. Onana will start on the bench in the latest blow of a troublesome tournament, which hasn’t helped ease the disappointment of his maiden season at Old Trafford.
Erik ten Hag placed his faith in the 27-year-old as David de Gea’s replacement last summer, reuniting in a £47million transfer from Inter Milan.
But he has suffered a woeful start to life at United, producing a series of high-profile mistakes that have contributed to underwhelming results.
Onana’s sudden U-turn on his international status – after a 2022 World Cup bust-up with manager Rigobert Song saw him retire from Cameroon duty – has been another black mark next to his name this term.
His AFCON campaign has gone just as smoothly as the opening months as United’s first-choice goalkeeper. So, not smooth at all.
Onana was quickly whisked away following the 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month in the hope that he would start Cameroon’s campaign against Guinea a day later.
However, a delay to his flight to the Ivory Coast made him late, and he watched cousin Fabrice Ondoa start a 1-1 stalemate instead.
Onana started the second Group C match against reigning champions Senegal and couldn’t prevent a 3-1 defeat, leaving Cameroon’s hopes of progression hanging by a thread.
He was expected to retain his spot for tonight’s crucial clash against rock-bottom The Gambia. But Song has snubbed Onana, handing Ondoa his second start of the tournament.
Cameroon sit third in Group C, needing to beat Gambia and hope Senegal defeat second-placed Guinea for any hope of automatic qualification into the last 16.
Suffering another loss would mean elimination from the competition, while a draw would leave them as outsiders in the running to be one of the four best third-placed sides.
Onana may not miss a single game for United if Cameroon crash out of AFCON at the Stade de la Paix a Bouake.
The Red Devils travel to League Two Newport County in their next outing on Sunday, looking to progress to the FA Cup fifth round.
However, Altay Bayindir is reportedly in line to finally make his debut after joining for £4m from Fenerbahce last summer, even if Onana has returned to Carrington before the trip to South Wales.
With the Sir Jim Ratcliffe era set to bring an air of ruthlessness regarding recruitment, Onana simply has to improve in the second half of the campaign.