World Cup: Could Onana have helped Cameroon beat Serbia?

Inter’s Andre Onana was cut from the Cameroon squad at the World Cup due to tactical disagreements with his coach, and Apollo Heyes asks if he could have made the difference in their 3-3 draw with Serbia.

The 26-year-old goalkeeper’s unexpected departure from the set up in Qatar surprised many, and it was soon revealed that he was excluded from the squad for the game against Serbia after coming to blows with coach Rigobert Song, who asked him to play less audaciously and more traditionally after his tournament opener against Switzerland. 

Onana was unimpressed with these suggestions and made a number of tactical observations, something that clearly wasn’t appreciated by the Cameroon coaching staff. He was replaced by the much less experienced Devis Epassy for the Serbia clash and has now left the Cameroon camp in Qatar.

Unfortunately for Song and Cameroon, Epassy did not play particularly well in their thrilling 3-3 draw with Serbia, making a number of vital mistakes throughout the match.

The 29-year-old started the match well, but his on-pitch insufficiencies quickly became apparent. Goalkeeping coach David Preece highlighted how Epassy’s poor positioning allowed Serbia’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to squeeze the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal. 

The Cameroon goalkeeper took a few steps forward and to the right before the decisive shot, putting him out of reach to make the save. His anxious footwork could be seen as a sign of his stress on the pitch. 

Epassy was again in the limelight for Serbia’s third goal early in the second half. The Eagles’ silky team play in the box clearly troubled the 29-year-old, who unconvincingly tried to close down the assist provider Andrija Zivkovic, leaving him miles off his line for Aleksandar Mitrović’s tap in. 

Onana took 61 touches in Cameroon’s 1-0 loss to Switzerland, 24 of which came outside the box, setting a new record for goalkeepers at the World Cup. A key part of his game was playing out from the back, something that Epassy didn’t do, regularly booting the ball down the pitch. This style clearly didn’t work against Serbia and they even conceded as a result of it. 

The decision to send Onana home after just one game was immediately confusing and their draw against Serbia only further highlighted why this was a poor move by Song and Cameroon. 

One Comment on “World Cup: Could Onana have helped Cameroon beat Serbia?”

  1. Onana would probably made a better save, but it is clear that he’s not there for his country, but for his own ego / raising his own brand as an ‘adventurous’ keeper. What kind of signal would that send to the rest of the team if he’s not reprimanded for it?
    I personally think that Song and Cameroon made the right decision here.

    Would be interesting if we can have Cameroonians reply and share their thoughts though.

Leave a Reply