Erik ten Hag has confirmed that custodian Andre Onana will return to Old Trafford on Thursday this week.
The 27-year-old is competing for Cameroon at the Ivory Coast 2024 African Cup of Nations. For the custodian, though, it’s been anything but good.
Three of Cameroon’s four tournament games saw Onana left off the field. The Indomitable Lions suffered a heartbreaking 3-1 loss in the one game he did play, which was the second group stage matchup against Senegal.
It is thought that this absence from the starting eleven was caused by long-standing disagreements with manager Rigobert Song and Cameroonian FA President Samuel Eto’o. To replace Onana, Song chose Fabrice Ondoa, a custodian for the French third level team Nimes Olympique and Onana’s cousin.
Onana had intended to arrive at the event later than expected in order to participate in the Premier League matchup between Tottenham Hotspur and the team. Due to this choice, the custodian had to make the exhausting and protracted travel to land in the Ivory Coast on the morning of Cameroon’s opening match against Gambia.
Pundits and event goers alike heavily condemned the 27-year-old for this decision. Onana reportedly decided to extend his stay in Manchester in order to avoid missing a crucial match, but he also did so apparently because he was worried that Altay Bayindir, his substitute, would do well without him.
After leaving Fenerbahce in the summer, Bayindir made his United debut yesterday.
Against Newport County, the Turkish international gave an encouraging, if a little unsteady, display. A handful of nail-biting situations involving distribution were supported by many excellent saves and claims from crosses.
Both of the goals that United would give up to the League Two team weren’t Bayindir’s fault.
Ten Hag lauded his backup goalie’s “composed” performance in his post-match remarks. Ten Hag stated, “I think it was a composed debut,” at Rodney Parade. Some excellent saves; very poised. Overall, I believe he can be content.
Onana “will be back for Thursday,” the Dutchman did confirm.
On this day, United will play Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux Stadium to start their Premier League campaign again. It’s another matter entirely whether Ten Hag was hinting that Onana would return for the match or was just back in training.
The Dutch manager did, however, acknowledge the former when he said, “Maybe, for the first time as long as I was manager, I can pick a team from the squad that is probably the strongest here.”