World Cup star banished amid ‘ridiculous’ drama in Cameroon thriller

Yahoo! | Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana may have played his last game at the World Cup in Qatar after being banished from his side’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Serbia. Vincent Aboubakar came off the bench to rescue a point for Cameroon after scoring one superb goal and creating another as they came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Serbs.

While the match itself was one of the most action-packed so far in Qatar, the drama started before kick-off when Cameroon coach Rigobert Song dropped first choice goalkeeper Onana from his starting XI. The initial explanation for the shock axing was that the Inter Milan keeper had been punished for unspecified disciplinary reasons, with the 26-year-old not even earning a spot on the bench.

Prominent football reporter Fabrizio Romano claimed that Onana’s coach “insisted” on a “different style of goalkeeping” that was “more traditional” – something the shot-stopper was unwilling to compromise on. “Onana has no intention to change his style — tense situation & so he’s been excluded,” Romano added.

It was later reported that Onana had left the World Cup and would not be returning, but Cameroon’s coach said his No.1 could still play a part in his country’s final World Cup group game against Brazil, despite being banished from the squad for the Serbia draw. Brazil have already qualified for the round of 16 after their 1-0 win over Switzerland made it two wins from two for Tite’s men.

It didn’t take Cameroon long to feel the impact of Onana’s absence, with replacement keeper Devis Epassy letting in a tame shot from Serbia’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic that Socceroos great Craig Foster insisted Cameroon’s first choice goalkeeper probably would have saved.

“This is the one where you are thinking that Onana is going to get a strong hand on that,” Craig Foster said on SBS. “It has cost them.”

Song confirmed after the match that Onana had not been sent home from the World Cup but stressed that it was up to the player and whether he was willing to put the team first, to determine whether he would feature for the African side again in Qatar.

“He is a very important player but we are in a competition and my role is to put the team first ahead of an individual,” Song said. “He is one of the best keepers in Europe. It’s a big risk that I took. But I’m the dad of these kids so when I have to take risks and make decisions, I do that and I stand by what I do.”

He added: “Right now we are working with those who want to defend the our country’s colours, what interests me are the players who are here.

“I’ve asked him to wait, we will have the opportunity to see if he can stay (at the World Cup). It also depends on him as he will also have to obey our rules. Let’s see if that’s possible.”

The explosive situation left football fans in a state of shock on social media, with Cameroon’s coach coming under fire from many supporters for axing one of his side’s most important players.

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  1. People who drop thier language can never be desciplined and organized with the rigor necessary to compit with top performing countries.

  2. Song just foolishly repeated same vindictive decision Paul LeGuen made with him in South Africa 2010 that caused Cameroon dearly.

  3. We knew about his goalkeeping style before the world cup and decided he should change it mid way? Let alone destroying the goalie’s confidence.This is the sort of stupid leadership decisions that result in such poor outcomes. Indeed the poor performance of the substitute keeper and our draw with Serbia should make Song a real laughing stock now. He can dress like Aliu Cisse all he wants but Song has a lot to learn about leadership.

  4. Right or wrong, there has to be an unwavering team first mentality over personal glory. The coach helps to build a team and without knowing the whole background story, I admire his resolve in how he managed the press conference.
    The coach has spoken. He will die on his sword and that is how it should be. It is tremendously important to manage all these ‘big’ stars to buy into the team first mentality, but that is how it is done everywhere.
    The result may not be what you want but it builds a very strong case for the locker room mentality.

  5. Foreign news wata na wata