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Onana eyes AFCON glory after ‘difficult year’

Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana has told ESPN that he is delighted to put a “difficult year” behind him and focus on glory with the Indomitable Lions after the hosts secured a 2-1 victory in the Africa Cup of Nations opener over Burkina Faso on Sunday.

The Inter Milan-bound goalkeeper endured a difficult 2021 in which he didn’t play competitively for 10 months after receiving an initial one-year ban — later reduced to nine months — for testing positive for prohibited substance Furosemide.

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After returning to action for club side Ajax in November, he said he still has much to learn as a young keeper following a testing start to his Nations Cup campaign.

“It’s certainly something great [to be back playing],” he told ESPN. “I’m not 100%, I’m 150%.

“Everyone knows what happened, and it was a very difficult year for me, but now I’m here so I don’t need to talk about [2021] anymore.

“Cameroon have done good things, and I’m happy with the victory, although it’s clear that there are some things we need to improve. I do as well, I have a lot more to learn, but I’m very happy with the result.”

Onana was at fault for Burkina Faso’s opening goal in the tournament opener, twice failing in quick succession to deal with balls into the box before misjudging Bertrand Traore‘s pinpoint delivery to allow Gustavo Sangare to volley home the AFCON opener.

It was the low point of a jittery first half from the 25-year-old, whose distribution was also inconsistent and whose frustrations with the defenders in front of him boiled over on several occasions during a vocal display.

“In football, you take decisions,” Onana added. “Sometimes you’re a second late, either I come out, either I don’t, tackle or not, but here I made the decision to come out, I took a hit in my chest, I got knocked out, but this is my responsibility, this is why I’m in goal.

“Maybe it wasn’t the best decision, but I’d taken it already and I now have to learn from these errors. Everyone has to acknowledge their mistakes, me as much as anyone.

“You learn every game, but we also have to control our emotions. This was special for us, but we’re a young team and it wasn’t easy to start with.”

Sangare’s opener was cancelled out by a pair of Vincent Aboubakar penalties in five minutes at the end of the second half, the first following a VAR intervention, leaving Cameroon atop Group A following the opening round of matches.

The Indomitable Lions resume their campaign against Ethiopia on Thursday, before facing Cape Verde in their final opening-round fixture on Monday.

Onana, who signed a five-year deal with Inter Milan on the eve of the tournament, is playing in his second consecutive Nations Cup after earlier rejecting the opportunity to join up with the national side before their successful 2017 campaign.

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