Andre Onana: How Cameroon Goalkeeper Performed on Man United Return After AFCON Fiasco

Andre Onana: How Cameroon Goalkeeper Performed on Man United Return After AFCON Fiasco

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at February 2, 2024 at 2:23 AM
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  • Andre Onana made a swift return to club football after AFCON 2023
  • Onana made only one appearance in the Ivory Coast with Cameroon
  • The goalkeeper's return to Man United saw the Red Devils concede 3 goals

Andre Onana took charge of the goal for Manchester United for the first time since his return from the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, contributing to his team's dramatic victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Onana's involvement in the AFCON became a focal point of attention when it was revealed that he would join his side at the eleventh hour, having played in United's clash with Tottenham on January 14, just a day before Cameroon's opening match against Guinea.

Andre Onana, Manchester United, Cameroon, Wolves, AFCON, Premier League
Andre Onana kept the post for Manchester United against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA.
Source: Getty Images

Andre Onana's AFCON fiasco

His belated arrival led to him being rightfully overlooked for the No.1 spot in favour of his cousin, Fabrice Ondoa, in the initial game.

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The former Ajax Amsterdam and Inter Milan custodian was reinstated in the goal for the second group game against Senegal.

However, the Indomitable Lions faced a daunting challenge against a Senegal side inspired by Sadio Mane, resulting in a 3-1 defeat and placing the central African side in a precarious position.

Ondoa once again replaced Andre in the crucial match against The Gambia, which concluded in favour of the five-time African champions, overcoming a 2-1 deficit to beat the Scorpions 3-2.

In their fourth and final game of the competition for the Central African nation, head coach Rigobert Song opted to keep Ondoa in the goal as Nigeria secured a decisive 2-0 victory, leading to Cameroon's exit at the round of 16 stage.

In summary, Onana's participation in the 2023 AFCON was limited to just one game for the Indomitable Lions.

Simultaneously, reports, corroborated by GOAL, suggested that the La Masia graduate's scarce playing time and an ongoing discord with Cameroon FA president Samuel Eto'o might compel him to retire from international football for the second time in slightly over 12 months.

Onana returns to club action at United

Stepping aside from the national team upheaval, Onana boarded a private jet bound for Manchester, rejoining his clubmates at Carrington.

His aim was to swiftly shift focus from the disappointment in Ivory Coast and secure a more confident role in Manchester.

Despite facing consistent criticism for his performances, the unsteady display of stop-gap goalkeeper Altay Bayindir for the Red Devils in the FA Cup against Newport ensured one clear outcome: Onana would continue as the indisputable No.1 at United.

True to expectations, in the Premier League clash against Wolves at the Molineux Stadium, the Cameroonian rightfully assumed his position as the club's most reliable goalkeeper.

How did Onana perform against Wolves

Ascending to seventh place in the Premier League standings, the Red Devils showcased their most impressive first-half performance of the season.

They netted two goals, with the 27-year-old and his defenders successfully fending off Wolves' attacks.

However, in the second half, they unnecessarily piled pressure on themselves by conceding two avoidable goals and a third in stoppage time before academy graduate Kobbie Mainoo ultimately secured the win for Erik ten Hag’s side.

The first setback came with a 'soft' penalty awarded to Wolves, won and converted by substitute Pablo Sarabia, who sent Onana the wrong way as his effort went in from the middle.

Scott McTominay then extended the Red Devils’ lead with a crucial header from a Bruno Fernandes corner.

In an attempt to control the game's tempo, Onana received a yellow card for time-wasting in the 78th minute.

Wolves further intensified the contest when Max Kilman found the net from close range in the 85th minute as the goalkeeper was rendered powerless by the effort.

In stoppage time, the narrow lead vanished as Pedro Neto slotted the ball between Raphael Varane’s legs. The Cameroonian could only watch the attempt nestle at the back of the net as the shot displaced him.

However, the 20-time English champions were rescued by teenage prodigy Mainoo, who scored a spectacular curler deep into stoppage time.

Onana's rating vs Wolves

Having let in three goals on his return to club football, the recipient of the Golden Glove Award in the 2022-2023 Champions League earned an average rating of 6.5, according to Sofascore.

Despite making three saves, his goal prevention stat went into the negative (-0.40).

During moments of intense pressure, he relied on his defence, and on some occasions, he needed rescuing. Lisandro Martinez, in particular, came to his aid by making a crucial goal-line clearance after Onana had missed an aerial duel.

Onana's return ends in win for United

Earlier, Sports Brief reported that Onana's return to club action concluded with a victory for Manchester United.

The decisive moment came from Kobbie Mainoo in the 97th minute, allowing the Red Devils to clinch a thrilling 4-3 win against Wolves on Thursday despite surrendering a two-goal lead.

Mainoo's magical contribution secured United's inaugural away league triumph since November.

Looking ahead, Ten Hag's team has the chance to ascend into the top six on Sunday when they face West Ham at home, following West Ham's 1-1 draw against Bournemouth.

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe is a Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga editor with five-year experience. He previously worked with Sports Corna and 360SportsGH.