2023 AFCON qualifiers: Onana, Njie Clinton return for Burundi clash.

The head coach of the men’s national football team of Cameroon, Rigobert Song, has recalled Andre Onana, Clinton Njie and Harold Moukoudi ahead of the decisive 2023 AFCON qualification game against Burundi.

The list of players retained for the make-or break encounter against The Swallows of Burundi, was unveiled by the Indomitable Lions trainer yesterday.

This was during a brief press conference that took place at the Technical Centre of the Cameroon Football Federation, FECAFOOT, in Odza, Yaounde.  

Among the most prominent names in the list is current Manchester United goalkeeper, Andre Onana.

The 27-year-old shot-stopper, who had announced his international retirement, after a fracas with Song, at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, is set to make his return.  

Speaking at the press conference, Rigobert Song said he was delighted with the return of Andre Onana.  

The football tactician also seized the occasion to remind public opinion that there has never been an Andre Onana problem in the national team.

 He mentioned that Onana’s return to the den solely depended on the goalkeeper, whom he said had made the right choice.  

“There has never been a problem. I made it clear during the last press conference. I said that it all depended on him and he knew what he had to do. I think if he is coming back today, it is because he has done the needful…he is among the best goalkeepers in the world,” Song disclosed.

Onana is not the only top player making his return to the squad. Njie Clinton, who last featured for Cameroon over a year ago, also made the cut.

The 30-year-old who is currently on the books of Sivasspor, in the Turkish Super League, has been rewarded for his exceptional form at club level.

Njie Clinton is arguably one of the most potent players of the Cameroon national team. The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winner, scored six goals in six pre-season games. This, experts have argued, made his inclusion in the squad inevitable.

Harold Moukoudi will also be reuniting with his teammates, after staying in the cold since featuring for Cameroon at the 2021 AFCON on home soil.

The intimidating defender, who was fast becoming a fan favourite when he made his debut about three years ago, has also been one of the standout players recently.

Moukoudi won a domestic double last season with Greek side AEK Athens.


Song positive players will deliver

Rigobert Song said at yesterday’s presser that the 24 players retained for the Burundi clash is the best the country can offer. 

The gaffer expressed optimism that they shall be able to replicate their scintillating club form with the national team.   

“I think it is a good list...the choices that my collaborators and myself made are the best. We will put in place our strategy to attain our objectives-which is to qualify for the AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire,” Song said.


The list 

Rigobert Song selected three goalkeepers; Andre Onana, Devis Epassy and Fabrice Ondoa, who rejoined the team during the last international break.

Eight defenders have been retained to ensure the solidity at the back. The most notable absentee in the list is 2017 AFCON winner, Fai Collins.

The midfield consists of regulars like Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Gael Ondoua, Samuel Oum Gouet, Olivier Ntcham, Olivier Kemen and Elliott Njongoue and Francois Mughe of Olympic Marseilles.  

Song will be banking on attackers to give Burundi defenders a nightmarish experience. Seven of them were selected. They are; Nicolas Ngamaleu, Bryan Mbeumo, Clinton Njie, Vincent Aboubakar, Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting, and Karl Toko Ekambi who scored in the first leg.

It is worth mentioning that Cameroon will face Burundi on September 12 in the sixth and final round qualifiers at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua.

They currently sit second of Group C of the 2023 AFCON qualifiers, one point behind leaders, Namibia.

The five-time AFCON winners have collected four points from their three games. They are level on points of the 3-nation group with next month’s opponent, Burundi.

Cameroon narrowly edged Burundi in the first leg 1-0. They shall be hoping to complete the job before their home crowd in Garoua.


Song on choice of Garoua

Quizzed on the choice of the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua, Rigobert Song said contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t have any problem.

He intimated that regardless of the choice of venue, the team is ready to make fans proud by qualifying for the 2023 AFCON.

“Garoua is in Cameroon. We are talking about the Cameroon national team. We could play in Bafoussam, Limbe and even in Bamenda. So, I think there is no problem with the choice of the venue where the game will take place,”

By Beng Emmanuel Kum and Beryl-Diane Massa*

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