Rigobert Song confirmed goalkeeper Andre Onana was left out of the Cameroon squad for Monday’s 3-3 draw against Serbia for disciplinary reasons - and insisted it was a decision that "had to happen".

Song would not elaborate on the reasons behind Onana's omission - reports suggested it was due to a disagreement over the 26-year-old's playing style in the opening World Cup defeat to Switzerland - but was satisfied he had made the right decision for the wider squad.

Against the Swiss, Onana made the most touches outside the box by a goalkeeper in a World Cup match (26) since records began in 1966.
 

 

The row overshadowed Cameroon hitting back from 3-1 down to claim an unlikely Group G draw against Serbia at Al Janoub Stadium, a result that dents both sides' hopes of advancing to the knockout phase.

Song said: "The goalkeeper position is very important but we are in a tournament and I know what I have to do and that is to ensure the team takes precedence over any individuals.

"In a squad, you need discipline and if you can't fit in with that, then you need to accept responsibility for that. Perhaps sometimes you need to take strong action to help people come to the realisation that certain things need to be done.

"All the 26 players are in a position to play. I took a risk but I accept the responsibility. I am interested in the players that I have at my disposal. Andre has been left out, you need to respect the rules that apply to everyone. It was something that had to happen."

Onana was replaced by Devis Epassy, who could have done better with Serbia's second goal but otherwise proved an able deputy.

Song added: "Everyone that did play was capable and those that didn't want to be a part of that, well they can be judged. Epassy showed he is also a very competent goalkeeper.

"I will talk about this in due course, I want to focus now on the Brazil game. We want to deal with players that want to be in the squad and that are proud to represent Cameroon.

"We are talking about one of the best goalkeepers in Europe [in Onana]. We don't question his ability but you do need to ensure the team takes precedence over individuals.

"For the time being I have asked him to wait and see if he is willing to stay with us. It's up to him to a certain extent, he will have to agree to accept the rules."

Cameroon hit back from two goals down to secure a 3-3 draw with Serbia that preserves both sides' chances of advancing to the World Cup round of 16.

The Indomitable Lions, with regular goalkeeper Andre Onana reportedly on his way home after a falling out with coach Rigobert Song, scored first through Jean-Charles Castelletto only for Serbia to seize control through goals from Strahinja Pavlovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

It seemed Dragan Stojkovic's men were cruising but they were stung by two goals in three second-half minutes, substitute Vincent Aboubakar's clever finish reducing the arrears before Eric Choupo-Moting brought Cameroon level.

Serbia bossed the bulk of the first half but had to wait until just before half-time to make their superiority count in the Group G clash at Al Janoub Stadium on Monday.

Mitrovic fired a left-footed strike against the post in the sixth minute following a neat one-two with Dusan Tadic and, six minutes later, came close again by shooting wide from close range after the ball bobbled around the Cameroon box.

Serbia were made to pay for his profligacy when Cameroon took the lead approaching the half-hour mark.

Pierre Kunde whipped in a corner from the left that was flicked on by Nicolas Nkoulou and Castelletto tapped in at the far post.

Cameroon could have doubled their advantage after 43 minutes but Kunde fired straight at goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic when clean through before slicing the rebound horribly wide.

It was to prove a critical moment as Serbia turned the game around before the break.

First, Pavlovic headed in Tadic’s floated free-kick before Sergej Milinkovic-Savic drove home from the edge of the box, although Onana's deputy Devis Epassy should have done better.

Mitrovic got the goal his all-round display deserved eight minutes into the second half.

Lovely interplay from Filip Kostic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic enabled Andrija Zivkovic to find space on the right side of the area and his cut-back was perfect for Mitrovic to tap into an empty net.

Cameroon appeared to be beaten but the 55th-minute introduction of Aboubakar turned the game on its head.

The Al Nassr striker made it 3-2 after 64 minutes, running on to Castelletto's through ball before producing an impudent scoop over Serbia goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic - the goal given after a VAR check.

He then turned provider two minutes later, escaping down the right before crossing for Choupo-Moting to fire in.

Mitrovic could have clinched it but shot straight at Epassy.

Sporting director Stevan Stojanovic was frustrated by Serbia's lack of belief in their defeat to Brazil, but has backed them to bounce back against Cameroon.

Two second-half goals from Richarlison saw Brazil run out 2-0 winners in their World Cup Group G opener on Thursday with Serbia producing an uncharacteristically passive performance.

They have the chance to kick-start their campaign when they meet a Cameroon side smarting from a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland, and Stojanovic is demanding a more assertive display.

He told the Informer newspaper: "We analysed the game against Brazil and I think we respected them too much. It's okay to respect Brazil, you should, but it's not good to underestimate yourself.

"It seems to me that we surrendered at half-time. It was as if the players in the dressing room thought that they could do nothing against such a strong Brazil, so they immediately counted on having two more games in which we should look to qualify."

 

Cameroon will pose a different type of threat although Stojanovic was not overly impressed after watching their game against the Swiss, adding: "African teams are unpredictable, including Cameroon. They have a couple of fast players, they need to be paid attention to.

"Cameroon threatened in the first half, had two or three chances, but it was as if they did not know how to take those opportunities. I wouldn't say they were selfish, but rash. They have some wild cards and you can see that no match here at the World Cup is easy, but we know our quality."

If Serbia were disappointing in their opening display, the same can be said of Cameroon who were sunk by Breel Embolo's close-range goal.

The Indomitable Lions were hit by more bad news on Friday after it emerged midfielder Olivier Ntcham, who missed the Switzerland game, will also sit out their remaining two group games through injury.

Coach Rigobert Song was heavily criticised in the aftermath of Thursday's encounter but is remaining optimistic.

"There is no question, everything is still possible and we have not given up hope," he said. "But we know we are no longer able to make mistakes.

"We will play an all-out game without hesitation. I think the game against Serbia will be different."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Serbia - Dusan Vlahovic

Reduced to a substitute's role against Brazil with coach Dragan Stojkovic adopting a more cautious approach, Juventus forward Vlahovic is likely to start against Cameroon with Serbia needing to win.

Vlahovic has been a rare bright spark for Juve this season, scoring six goals in 10 Serie A appearances, and will form a physical strikeforce with Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Cameroon - Bryan Mbeumo

Cameroon will be hoping for more from Bryan Mbeumo. The Brentford attacker was a peripheral figure against Switzerland, contributing just one shot on target and three touches inside the opposition box.

This would be the ideal moment for Mbeumo to score his first international goal, as Cameroon are averaging just 0.8 goals per game at the World Cup (18 goals in 24 games), the lowest ratio of any nation to play at least 20 games in the tournament. 


PREDICTION

Serbia possess the greater attacking threat with the likes of Mitrovic, Vlahovic and Dusan Tadic, so they are fancied to win this one and get their qualification hopes back on track.

Stats Perform's AI model gives them a 56.3 per cent chance of emerging victorious with Cameroon's hopes rated at just 19.5 per cent. A draw comes in at 24.2 per cent, although that result would not really help either side.

Andre Onana revealed he is always learning from fellow Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, while he draws inspiration from Germany captain Manuel Neuer.

The former Ajax stopper joined the Nerazzurri on a free transfer ahead of this season, eventually replacing veteran Handanovic between the sticks after watching their opening eight Serie A matches from the bench.

Onana frequently picks up tips from the 38-year-old, but it is Bayern Munich counterpart Neuer who he regards as "the greatest."

"Handanovic is a giant, I take off my hat to him," he told SportWeek. "He always helps and advises me. I'm a modern goalkeeper, I go out, I take a lot of risks and I play with my feet.

"As a child, I dreamed watching the miracles of [Gianluigi] Buffon and [Iker] Casillas, but the greatest is Neuer: he does crazy things, I am inspired by him."

Onana is on international duty with Cameroon at the World Cup, starting the 1-0 loss against Switzerland, and is set to feature in their remaining Group G encounters with Serbia and Brazil.

The 26-year-old revealed that following the defeat by the Swiss, the Indomitable Lions received a surprise visit from one of their all-time greats.

"The defeat against Switzerland is already behind us," he added. "[Samuel] Eto'o came to the locker room to encourage us.

"[Our] heads [are] held high for the next challenges with Serbia and Brazil at the World Cup. The goal is to qualify for the knockout rounds. For us, the dream remains alive, intact and achievable."

Cameroon coach Rigobert Song made no secret of his pride in Breel Embolo despite the Switzerland forward scoring the winning goal against his birth nation at the World Cup on Thursday.

Embolo's second-half strike from Xherdan Shaqiri's cross proved decisive as Switzerland won 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium, giving Switzerland a victorious start to their Group G campaign.

The goal was even more notable due to the fact Embolo was born in Cameroon but represents Switzerland after spending much of his childhood there.

Despite not choosing to play for the nation of his birth, Embolo retains links to the country and Song revealed the pair share a strong personal relationship.

As such, Song felt a degree of pride in seeing Embolo prevail on Thursday.

Asked if he had preferred Embolo to have played for Cameroon, Song told reporters: "Yes, but that's the nature of the game.

"We are all proud of our country, you saw he didn't celebrate his goal. But again this [players representing other countries] is part and parcel of football.

"I'm happy for him and proud of him. Because he's playing for the Switzerland team, yes I'd have liked him on my side, but that's not the way it went. That's just the way of life.

"For us the most important thing is how we played, rather than who scored against us."

Song and Embolo shared a warm embrace at full-time, with the former explaining it was important to greet the Monaco player as a show of respect.

"We know each other, he's my little brother, I'm like the big brother, we've often spoken on the phone as well," Song said.

"I wanted to congratulate him, it's fair play. Because we are from the same family [country] but on different teams, it doesn't mean we are not going to be on good terms.

"He had a good game, I wanted to tell him. I'm not going to be a sore loser, we're still brothers at the end of the day."

Switzerland boss Murat Yakin was less forthcoming than Song in general as he addressed the media afterwards, but he did express a hint of pleasure in the narrative behind Embolo's goal.

"We know his story, his past in Cameroon," he added. "Well, you can be friendly up to kick-off and then they are your opponents.

"[Embolo's story] is football, it's writing history, these stories. Of course, he wants to score for his team and he fulfilled his task, so we are very happy. He had good moments through the match. He fulfilled his task well."

Switzerland face Brazil next on Monday, while Cameroon will hope to bounce back against Serbia the same day – another defeat will see them equal Mexico's all-time record for the most successive World Cup losses (nine).

Breel Embolo scored the winner against his birth nation as Switzerland beat Cameroon 1-0 at Al Janoub Stadium in their World Cup Group G opener on Thursday.

The Yaounde-born attacker refused to celebrate his second-half tap-in but his goal sparked jubilant scenes for the Swiss at full-time as Murat Yakin's side inflicted Cameroon's eighth successive World Cup defeat, one shy of the record.

The Indomitable Lions had the better of the first half and kept Yann Sommer relatively busy in the Switzerland net, though there were a couple of warning signs for Cameroon just before the break.

Embolo had been involved in one of those incidents and was fittingly the man to break the deadlock in the 48th minute, with Switzerland ultimately good value for the win after an effective second-half display.

Cameroon began with the greater purpose and should have scored 10 minutes in as Bryan Mbeumo blasted at Sommer and Karl Toko Ekambi inexplicably blasted over on the rebound.

Undeterred, Cameroon continued to look more threatening, with Martin Hongla testing Sommer from a tight angle 20 minutes later, and a crucial Silvan Widmer clearance denied Toko Ekambi a tap-in.

Switzerland finished the half stronger, however, and only a last-ditch Jean-Charles Castelletto tackle prevented Embolo a certain goal before Manuel Akanji nodded just wide in stoppage time.

But there was no denying Embolo just after the break as the Monaco forward swept home from Xherdan Shaqiri's low right-wing cross.

Andre Onana kept Cameroon in the contest just past the hour with a fine stop to thwart Ruben Vargas, but Rigobert Song's men were unable to capitalise at the other end.


What does it mean? Vital win for Switzerland as things only get tougher from here

With Brazil and Serbia to come, it was essential Switzerland came through this with a positive result – and that they did.

It certainly was not a vintage performance from a side Yakin called "one of the best Swiss national teams that have ever existed", but in the second half they often played with real fluency.

Switzerland are one of only three European teams to reach the knockout stages in each of the past four major international tournaments, and this was a big step to continuing that streak in Qatar.

Shaqiri dependable as ever

He may not carry quite the same influence over Switzerland's general play as he once did, but Shaqiri just always seems to deliver for his national team. His cross, cleverly pulled back slightly, gave Embolo an easy finish for the winner, giving the experienced winger his 12th goal involvement for the Swiss over the last four major tournaments, exactly 50 per cent of their total.

Vargas frustrates

He was full of running and endeavour, but this was largely a frustrating display from the left winger. Although his two chances created was a high for Switzerland, he wasted two glorious opportunities: one saw him slice a cross over the goal with Granit Xhaka awaiting a tap-in, and the second involved him failing to beat Onana from close range.

What's next?

Switzerland face the ultimate test when they tussle with Brazil on Monday. Cameroon will play Serbia the same day.

Switzerland will be looking to extend an impressive unbeaten streak across opening World Cup encounters when they face off with Cameroon at Al Janoub Stadium in Group G on Thursday.

The Swiss arrive at Qatar 2022 having not been defeated in their first match of the tournament since a 5-0 loss against Germany in 1966.

What is more, they will be hoping to reach the knockout stages for the third successive time, after last-16 finishes at Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.

They will  be relying on experienced heads as they meet African opposition for the second time at the World Cup too, having last faced Togo at Germany 2006.

Vice-captain Xherdan Shaqiri may have bowed out at European club level to play in MLS, but he has been directly involved in 48 per cent of their 23 goals in their last four major tournaments, with eight goals and three assists.

In his fourth World Cup, the attacking midfielder says his nation are unfancied in a group alongside Brazil and Serbia, but added: "There are always underdogs who maybe surprise.

"So we will see which team this is going to be. I hope Switzerland is one of them."

Cameroon arrive at their eighth World Cup, the most among African nations, while they have only been outscored by Nigeria among teams from their continent at the competition.

But they have lost each of their previous seven World Cup matches, a record only beaten by Mexico's nine consecutive defeats between 1930 and 1958.

One man hoping to make a difference for Rigobert Song's side will be Bryan Mbeumo, with the former France youth international only switching his allegiance in August.

"I've always wanted to play a World Cup since I was young," he stated. "Just to walk around the pitch with a big crowd and other stuff would be amazing. It's going to be crazy inside me."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland – Breel Embolo

The Cameroon-born forward was his side's top scorer during qualifying, with three goals to his name. He scored twice during their Nations League matches in September too and the Monaco attacker will hope he can carry that form over to the World Cup

Cameroon – Vincent Aboubakar

If there is a man with unfinished business among their ranks, it will be the Al-Nassr man, fresh from eight goals at the 2021 African Cup of Nations. The forward has failed to register a single shot on target during four previous World Cup matches, and will hope to break his duck.

PREDICTION

With a cast-iron record in both recent tournament results and opening World Cup matches, Switzerland will be fancied to seal victory in this first game against Cameroon.

According to Stats Perform's AI model, Yakin's side have a 56.5 per cent chance of winning the game, compared to Cameroon's 18 per cent. That said, both teams could well prove tougher to split, with a 25.5 per cent chance of a draw instead.

Cameroon forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is sad for Senegal, Africa and Sadio Mane after his Bayern Munich team-mate was ruled out of the World Cup.

African player of the year Mane was initially expected to feature in Qatar and was named in Senegal's 26-man squad, despite sustaining a leg injury in Bayern's 6-1 win over Werder Bremen on November 8.

But the former Liverpool forward saw his World Cup dreams shattered last Thursday as Senegal confirmed surgery would be required for the 30-year-old's fibula issue, thus ruling him out of the tournament.

Choupo-Moting and Cameroon face Switzerland in Thursday's Group G opener but much of the striker's focus appeared to be with team-mate Mane.

"I'm very sad for him, and for both Senegal and for Africa. He's a great player and a great person as well," Choupo-Moting said on Tuesday.

"I'm very happy that he joined us at Bayern. I'm very, very upset and sad for him that this injury came just before the World Cup.

"Injuries are always part of the game, unfortunately, I don't know why it came at the wrong moment but we are all with him. 

"He's a positive guy who will keep his positive energy. I hope he will come back stronger."

Cameroon have lost their last seven games at the World Cup (between 2002 and 2014), with only Mexico losing more consecutive outings at FIFA's top tournament, nine from 1930 to 1958.

But Rigobert Song's side impressed with 14 goals at the Africa Cup of Nations, five more than any other team, and the most at the competition since Egypt in 2010 (15).

Choupo-Moting has also managed a talismanic nine goals in 14 games for Bayern and he expects his hard work to pay dividends for Cameroon in Qatar.

"There's no secret, it's work; you have to work and believe in yourself," he added. "I know my qualities. I know I have a lot of qualities and with my team-mates, each one can make a difference. 

"There is always this pressure, every game is important and Cameroon expects us to win every game. We concentrate game after game. First, it's Switzerland and then we'll see."

Argentina's World Cup hopes took a shuddering blow in their Qatar 2022 opener as they were sensationally beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia.

Having won the Copa America last year and embarked on a 36-match unbeaten run, La Albiceleste arrived in Qatar as one of the favourites to be crowned world champions.

Lionel Messi's penalty gave them an early lead in their first Group C match at Lusail Stadium, but second-half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari ensured Saudi Arabia pulled off a huge upset.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at five of the other monumental World Cup shocks over the years.

Senegal 1-0 France (Korea/Japan 2002)

Perhaps the all-time upset in World Cup history, France headed to the 2002 edition four years on from a triumph on home soil with a squad brimming with talent and set on defending their crown.

Yet in the opening match, Les Bleus - without talisman Zinedine Zidane - were stunned by Senegal, the competition's lowest-ranked side, thanks to Papa Bouba Diop's first-half finish in Seoul.

France went on to finish bottom of Group A with just a draw against Uruguay to their name, and failing to score a single goal.

North Korea 1-0 Italy (England 1966)

Arriving in Europe for their first appearance at the World Cup, North Korea were widely expected to make an early exit after a defeat to the Soviet Union and a draw with Chile.

But Pak Doo-ik made history when his lone goal saw them shock two-time winners Italy at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough.

North Korea have only been back to the World Cup once, at South Africa 2010, where they scored once and conceded a dozen, finishing bottom of Group G.

Cameroon 1-0 Argentina (Italy 1990)

This is not the first time La Albiceleste have been involved in one of the most unexpected results at a World Cup, having been stunned in the first match of their title defence over three decades ago.

Argentina arrived at Italia 90 looking to defend the crown Diego Maradona guided them to four years prior, but Francois Omam-Biyik's 67th-minute goal at San Siro left them shell-shocked.

USA 1-0 England (Brazil 1950)

Heading into their tournament debut in South America, England were fancied to make a big impact, particularly when they came up against a United States team dominated by part-timers.

But a goal for Joe Gaetjens made history for the USA, bringing England back down to earth after they started with a 2-0 win over Chile.

Walter Winterbottom's men were then on their way home after slumping to a 1-0 loss at the hands of Spain.

Northern Ireland 1-0 Spain (Spain 1982)

Fondly remembered four decades down the line, Northern Ireland's win against tournament hosts Spain ranks among the greatest in their history, as they defied the odds in Valencia.

Gerry Armstrong's goal early in the second half put then in front and although Mal Donaghy was shown a red card, Billy Bingham's team hung on to deliver an almighty upset.

Jamaica Reggae Boyz head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson has expressed satisfaction with the team’s overall performance in a hard-fought 1-1 draw against World Cup-bound Cameroon on Wednesday.

Neither team fielded full-strength units for the international friendly, but the competitive fixture, in front of a vociferous crowd at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, was a fiercely contested affair.

Despite looking less potent as an attacking unit, a defensively solid Jamaica took the lead through Justin McMaster in the 60th minute.  The Cameroonians, however, managed to eventually get back on level footing after substitute Djawal Kaiba’s deflected long-range effort flew over the head of Jahmali Waite and into the net, in the 76th minute.

Despite losing the lead, Hallgrimsson believes the team, which consisted of many players based in Jamaica, put in a commendable performance, considering the limited preparation time.

“I think we are quite happy with the players. It was a good result for Jamaica; playing early in the season and a lot of players not having a lot of games under their belt and playing in a difficult environment, probably the biggest crowd most of the players have played in front of, with 40,000 people supporting the opponent.” Hallgrimsson said following the match.

“They were intimidating circumstances playing a World Cup team but I think we can be happy with the result.  I am happy with how professional the players were in the camp and how much they took in from what we were trying to teach them.  Overall, I think that we were really happy,” he added.

“For the game itself we need to improve a lot but that is understandable when these players haven’t played a lot together.”

 

Jamaica and Cameroon played to an entertaining 1-1 draw in their maiden encounter at the Omnisport Stadium in Limbe, Cameroon on Wednesday.

Jamaica Reggae Boyz coach Heimir Hallgrímsson is expecting a highly competitive and difficult fixture against World Cup-bound Cameroon on Wednesday.

Both teams will field majority players from their individual country’s local leagues but with the global football showpiece on the horizon in the next two weeks, the Africans will have a strong incentive to put on a show for their home crowd.

In addition, Cameroon coach Rigobert Song has promised to fill the remaining World Cup squads with players from the encounter.

“We really don’t know much about Cameroon.  The national team that will be facing us, its local players it’s not the team that will be going to the World Cup but I can say for sure that league in Cameroon is really strong and I don’t have the calculations but I think it is much stronger than the league in Jamaica,” Hallgrímsson said ahead of the fixture.

“For the guys before the camp the Cameroon coach Rigobert Song said he would pick 3 players from this squad to go to the World Cup with him in Qatar.  So, they have a lot to fight for and a lot to show, so we will be facing a very motivated group of players tomorrow.”

The match will be the second in charge for Hallgrimson who made his debut in a 3-0 defeat to Argentina after taking charge of the team in October.

Jamaica has selected a 20-man squad devoid of its European-based players for an international friendly against Cameroon at the Stade Omnisport Ahmadou Ahidja in Cameroon on Saturday, November 9.

The local-based members of the delegation are scheduled to leave Thursday from the Sangster International Airport.

Because the match falls outside the FIFA-approved international window, the squad is comprised of players from Jamaica’s local premier league with the rest coming from the American soccer leagues.

According to the JFF, Kemar Lawrence’s availability is yet to be confirmed but he has been named in the squad regardless as there are efforts being made to ensure that he is available.

The full squad is Alwayne Harvey – Mount Pleasant, Colorado Murray – Harbour View FC, Damion Lowe – Inter Miami, Demario Phillips – Mount Pleasant, Devon Williams – Miami FC, Dwayne Atkinson – Cavalier SC, Jahmali Waite – Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Jamoi Topey – Mount Pleasant, Javain Brown – Vancouver Whitecaps, Jourdain Fletcher – NEROCA FC, Kevon Lambert – Phoenix Rising, Lamar Walker – Miami FC, Maliek Howell – Memphis Tigers, Ricardo Thomas – Dunbeholden FC, Richard King – Cavalier SC, Kemar Foster – Waterhouse FC, Kemar Lawrence – Minnesota FC, Peter McGregor – Dunbeholden, Justin McMaster – Minnesota FC, Trivante Stewart – Mount Pleasant.

The number 64-ranked Reggae Boyz heads into this maiden encounter against the Indomitable Lions having one win, two draws and three losses in the last six matches, the last of which was a 3-0 loss to Argentina on September 28.

Cameroon, meanwhile, has a similar record from their last six matches. They lost their last match on September 27, 1-0 to South Korea.

 

Reigning Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions Senegal and continental powerhouse Ivory Coast have been drawn together for the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The biennial tournament is due to be held in Algeria in January and February 2023, with 18 teams competing across five groups. The participants must consist only of players playing in their domestic national league competitions.

Group B looms as the toughest with Senegal drawn alongside two-time AFCON winners Ivory Coast, as well as DR Congo and Uganda. DR Congo missed out on 2022 World Cup qualification in the playoffs to Morocco.

Hosts Algeria are in Group A with 2014 winners Libya, Ethiopia and Mozambique, while Morocco, who have lifted the past two African Nations Championship titles, are in Group C with Ghana, Sudan and Madagascar.

Mali, Angola and Mauritania are in Group D and Cameroon, Congo and Niger make up Group E.

Egypt, who lost last year's AFCON final to Senegal, along with 2022 World Cup participants Tunisia did not enter, while Nigeria failed to qualify.

Andre Onana has revealed a message of support from compatriot Samuel Eto'o convinced him to join Inter, with the Cameroon legend telling the goalkeeper "you are a winner".

Onana completed his long-awaited move to Inter from Ajax on a free transfer at the start of July, ending a six-season stay with the Eredivisie champions.

The Cameroon international reportedly agreed a deal all the way back in January, with the 26-year-old expected to be the long-term replacement for Samir Handanovic.

Simone Inzaghi's side did not confirm the length of Onana's contract, though it is reported to run through until the end of the 2026-27 campaign.

Having traded Amsterdam for Milan, Onana suggested Eto'o, who was part of the Inter side that completed a stunning treble in 2009-10, played a role in his move to the Nerazzurri.

"It's a great club. From the moment I spoke with [sporting director] Piero Ausilio, he immediately gave me his word and he kept it," Onana told DAZN.

"The talk we had made an impact on me and I was very happy. 

"I already knew Inter because of Eto'o, I talked to him before the transfer and he told me, you are a winner, Inter is the right club for you."

Onana is no stranger to playing for one of Europe's elite, having come through the acclaimed La Masia academy at Barcelona before moving to the youth setup at Ajax in 2015.

"These first days went well, I've learned a lot. I'm happy to be here at this club so close to the players, everything is going very well. I've been to Barcelona, to Amsterdam," he added.

"Being here I have noticed many different things but also some that are similar to Spain.

"For me the goalkeeping training, I'm really enjoying it here. Here you see football differently, there is a different way of thinking and I think this'll help me a lot."

Onana will hope to help Inter reclaim the Serie A title from fierce rivals Milan, with Inzaghi's side starting their league campaign at newly promoted Lecce on August 13.

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