Andre Onana Said to be Considering Skipping AFCON: Embattled Manchester United Keeper Risks FIFA Ban

Andre Onana Said to be Considering Skipping AFCON: Embattled Manchester United Keeper Risks FIFA Ban

Martin Moses
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
  • Andre Onana's catastrophic start to his Manchester United career hit a new low against Galatasaray
  • The goalkeeper is now said to be considering skipping his AFCON duties with Cameroon next month
  • Sports Brief looks into it how this could open him and Man United up to FIFA disciplinary proceedings

It is no secret that Andre Onana's first few months at Manchester United haven't gone as planned.

Brought in to replace an out-of-favour David de Gea, the goalkeeper has yet to impress between the sticks despite having the highest number of clean sheets in the Premier League.

His has been a story of the numbers sometimes lying as he registered a new low against Galatasaray on November 29.

Andre Onana, Manchester United, Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon
Andre Onana looking dejected following Manchester United's game against Galatasaray on November 29. Photo by Seskim Photo/MB Media.
Source: Getty Images

The Cameroon international was twice caught out by Hakim Ziyech's free kicks, which, if we are being honest, weren't spectacular but somehow found their way to the back of the net.

He cut a frustrated figure after the three-all draw in Turkey - a result that left their progression to the Champions League round of 16 in jeopardy. They must beat an already-qualified Bayern Munich and hope for results elsewhere to go their way.

Amid all of this, The Guardian reports that the former Inter Milan goalkeeper is considering giving the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) a wide berth.

Onana is possibly thinking that his absence in January could offer the Red Devils' secondary goalkeepers, Altay Bayindir and Tom Heaton, a chance to usurp him as Erik ten Hag's first-choice. The former has not played a single game for United since joining from Fenerbache.

Onana is expected to be included in Rigobert Song's squad for AFCON duty a few months after the two patched up their relationship. The goalkeeper had retired from international duty during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Why Onana cannot skip AFCON duty for Cameroon

However, as Sports Brief has determined, skipping AFCON will bring Onana more problems. Should he be called up by Song, he has no choice but to show up lest he and Manchester United risk sanctions from FIFA.

According to FIFA's handbook on the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players Annexe 1, the rules say that a club must release any player called up for international duty. The rules continue to say that any collusion between the club and the player, such as faking an injury, is prohibited.

"Clubs are obliged to release their registered players to the representative teams of the country for which the player is eligible to play on the basis of his nationality if they are called up by the association concerned."

The only exception to this is when a members' association calls a player outside the set international windows by FIFA. In this case, the club can decline to release the player.

A player might, however, decline to show up by retiring from international duty, which, in this case, won't see them compelled by FIFA.

Punishment for skipping international duty

The rules continue to say that should a player refuse a call-up, then he should play for his registered club during the period of the games plus an extra five days.

"A player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, not entitled to play for the club with which he is registered during the period for which he has been released or should have been released under the provisions of this annexe, plus an additional period of five days."

Joel Matip has previously been forced to sit out for two games for Liverpool as Cameroon threatened to take legal action after the defender refused to show up for the 2017 AFCON.

Onana could miss up to six games for Manchester United between January 11 and February 13 - should the Indomitable Lions reach the final. they face Guinea, Senegal and Gambia in the group stages.

What Guardiola said about Onana

Sports Brief earlier reported that Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola once voiced his admiration for Onana, appreciating how good he is.

The Cameroon international has been in the news for the wrong reasons recently, as he continues to struggle between the sticks for the Red Devils.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)