Andre Onana could be banned from playing for Manchester United even if he rejects the chance to play for Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The goalkeeper is expected to be called up to the Cameroon squad for the AFCON in the Ivory Coast between January 13 and February 11 next year.
However, Onana is nervous about losing his place at United to Turkish understudy Altay Bayindir while he’s away and may try and swerve the tournament.
His latest horror show came as United twice threw away a winning position to draw 3-3 with Galatasaray in a crucial Champions League game on Wednesday night, with the keeper at fault to some extent for all three goals.
Andre Onana had a nightmare evening as Manchester United drew 3-3 with Galatasaray to leave their Champions League hopes dangling by a thread
Onana conceded two soft Hakim Ziyech free-kicks in the latest of a series of high-profile errors
He could be taken out of the firing line and replaced by back-up keeper Altay Bayindir (right)
The pressure is mounting on Erik ten Hag because Onana is a goalkeeper he pushed to sign
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But if Cameroon select him for their squad, Onana could be prohibited under FIFA rules from playing for United anyway during the AFCON.
As reported by The Sun, FIFA’s regulations state: ‘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… plus an additional period of five days.’
It means Cameroon would have to give United and Onana dispensation to play if he declined to go to the tournament having been called up.
Given the 27-year-old, who cost United £47million to sign from Inter Milan in the summer, has re-established himself as Cameroon’s No 1, it’s likely they will want him for the showpiece African tournament.
Cameroon have been drawn in Group C alongside Senegal, Guinea and Gambia. Their opening fixture is against Guinea in Yamoussoukro on January 15.
Onana fell out with coach Rigobert Song at last year’s World Cup in Qatar and was sent home from the tournament. He duly announced his international retirement in December.
However, having buried the hatchet with Song, Onana was recalled to international duty in August and has since played in three matches.
Liverpool and former Cameroon defender Joel Matip was involved in a similar situation when he was called up for the 2017 AFCON.
Onana returned to the Cameroon fold in August having been sent home from the World Cup
He buried the hatchet with coach Rigobert Song after they clashed over tactics in Qatar
Matip refused the call-up and it later emerged he’d retired from international football when playing for Schalke but hadn’t followed FIFA procedure by informing Cameroon’s national association by letter.
As a result, he missed two Liverpool games – against Manchester United in the Premier League and Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup – before the matter was resolved.
United manager Erik ten Hag could bring in Bayindir, a deadline day signing from Fenerbahce, after the latest gaffes from Onana.
He conceded two saveable free-kicks from Galatasaray’s Hakim Ziyech as United’s Champions League last-16 hopes dangling by a thread.
They needs to defeat Bayern Munich at Old Trafford on matchday six and hope the other game between Copenhagen and Galatasaray ends all-square.
As he reflected on the latest setback in Europe, Ten Hag was asked about Bayindir and the competition among his keepers.
‘Altay is getting used to the Premier League and he is getting used to European football, which is tough when you’re coming from Turkey,’ said the United manager.
‘But we are very pleased with that process, he’s doing very well. He has to be patient but if he works well, if he keeps his progress, he will get his chance and then he has to take it.
Onana made a poor error to let in a Leroy Sane strike against Bayern Munich in September
Onana threw his gloves to the ground at the final whistle in Istanbul on Wednesday night
‘We are very pleased with the goalkeeper group. Andre, Altay and Tom Heaton, as a group they do really well. They have good performances and they have to push each other.’
Dropping Onana would be a huge call for Ten Hag, not least because he put his own credibility and judgment on the line by signing him in the summer.
The Dutchman called time on David de Gea’s career at United after he had won the Golden Glove award last season and broken club records for appearances and clean sheets, then paid Inter Milan £47.2million for his former Ajax keeper based on Onana’s ability with the ball at his feet.