Eyebrows were raised on Monday morning when Cameroon began their crucial World Cup group match against Serbia without first-choice goalkeeper Andre Onana, as Devis Epassy deputised in a 3-3 draw.
There were no reports of an injury, but reports quickly emerged that Onana had been kicked out of the team. That was confirmed after the match, as coach Rigobert Song confirmed to Marca that he had asked to leave himself.
“You have to adapt to the discipline of the team. If you can’t do it, if you can’t adapt to what we ask of this team, I think it’s necessary to step aside and take responsibility. The team is more important than individuals.”
Reportedly the issues stemmed from Onana’s protagonism outside of the box. Song wanted Onana to play more long balls rather than pass the ball out. The Cameroon ‘keeper had 58 touches against Switzerland, more than half of which not in his area. Song had asked him to be more safe with his play and remain deeper, something Onana had refused to do, despite FA President Samuel Eto’o attempting to repair matters.
Cameroon were open to reconciliation, but Onana has not stepped off his position and thus has decided to leave the Cameroon camp ahead of their decisive final group game against Brazil. As per Marca, the Inter goalkeeper will release a statement on the matter when he arrives back in Cameroon.
It is hard to argue with Song’s assertion that the team must come first, ahead of the individual, even if the player feels they have other things to offer. The former Barcelona player’s statement is much-awaited, as it seems a remarkable matter to sacrifice World Cup appearances over.