Cameroon coach refuses to blame Andre Onana for crushing Senegal defeat

Cameroon manager Rigobert Song has refused to call out goalkeeper Andre Onana after his nation’s crushing 3-1 defeat to Senegal.

Having missed the opening game of the tournament following his decision to delay his departure from Manchester United, Onana was returned to the starting lineup for Friday’s game but was powerless to prevent Senegal from picking up a big win.

Onana attracted criticism from fans for Senegal’s third goal, a late strike from Sadio Mane, as he appeared to take an eternity to get down to a low strike which killed his side’s hope of a much-needed point.

“I’m not going to blame anyone, I’m going to take responsibility,” Song said after the game. “My players fought. We must recognise that Senegal were better than us. The next match we will win and qualify for the next round.”

The defeat leaves Cameroon third in Group C, outside of the automatic qualification spots, and even a victory over bottom side The Gambia may not be enough to climb into the top two, leaving Song’s outfit perhaps needing to squeeze through as one of the best third-placed finishers.

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“Maybe they played better,” Onana reflected to Canal+ Sport Afrique. “We had our chances, both teams had their periods.

“We had the opportunity to come back to 2-2, it didn’t work out. Everything depends on details and the match has changed. On the verge of elimination? No. We are a great nation, with an important match coming up and we are going to give everything. We know very well that it’s going to be difficult, that’s why we’re here. And we will assume our responsibilities.

“We must also recognise the quality of the opposing team. We played against the African champion, they put us in difficulty. But in the last 45 minutes, we were better. We must learn from our mistakes.”

An early AFCON exit for Cameroon would see Onana return to United before the end of the month. Wolves are the first opponents on the schedule on February 1, with West Ham due to visit Old Trafford three days later.

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