Onana through to AFCON's last 16

Tuesday 23 January 2024 19:20

Andre Onana's AFCON campaign will continue after Cameroon qualified for the last 16 with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Gambia.

For the second time in three Group C games, the Manchester United goalkeeper was an unused substitute, with Fabrice Ondoa replacing him in the starting line-up.

The Nimes shot-stopper certainly played his part as Cameroon initially kept Gambia waiting for their first goal of the tournament. But Onana's national side needed to win in order to go through and after the first half ended 0-0, they upped the ante in a lively start to the second period. Georges-Kevin Nkoudou smashed a shot against the crossbar, moments after a potential penalty was overlooked when his heel was caught by a defender.

The pressure eventually told when Karl Toko-Ekambi rose between two defenders inside the penalty area and glanced a header past Gambia goalkeeper Baboucarr Gaye to give Cameroon the lead in the 56th minute. The cameras showed Onana, still wearing a substitute's bib, embracing his coach Rigobert Song.

Cameroon were on course to qualify at that point but the opposite fate seemed a distinct possibility when Gambia's no.3 Ablie Jallow charged forward and leapt in the air to cushion an equalising volley past Ondoa in the 72nd minute.

It really looked to be all over for Onana and co as Ebrima Colley celebrated making it 2-1 to the underdogs five minutes from the end of normal time.

Gambia's lead lasted for only two minutes with James Gomez's unfortunate own goal levelling the score again in the 87th minute. But Onana's country still needed to find a winner and it finally came, early in injury time, when Christopher Wooh headed home to spark ecstasy among the Cameroon fans, players and staff.

There was further drama when Gambia found the net again but just when it seemed Cameroon might be eliminated, a VAR check showed the 'scorer' Muhammed Sanneh clearly used his hand to knock the ball in.

The Indomitable Lions qualified as Group C runners-up behind Senegal, who topped the pool with a maximum nine points after winning their last game, 2-0 against Guinea.

Congrats, Andre, and good luck for the next round against Nigeria on Saturday night (20:00 GMT).