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When is Andre Onana back from AFCON? Africa Cup of Nations schedule and Man United games missed by goalkeeper

When is Andre Onana back from AFCON? Africa Cup of Nations schedule and Man United games missed by goalkeeper

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations could have a major impact on the Premier League at the start of 2024 as a host of star names join up with their national sides.

The prospect of a mid-season international tournament is never popular for club teams with the 2022 FIFA World Cup forcing a historic pause to the European club calendar due to the finals being staged in Qatar’s winter in November and December last year.

However, the schedule of AFCON places the competition in January in the majority of years in which it has taken place, with the Europe’s domestic football impacted as a result.

The 2023 version (played in 2024) will run for just over a month and supporters of Premier League teams will be hoping for an early return for their star names.

One of those is Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana, who has been named in the Cameroon squad for the finals. His club teammate, Sofyan Amrabat, will also be at AFCON, representing Morocco.

The blow of losing Onana for a prolonged period was softened after United and Cameroon came to an agreement that would allow him to stay with his club a little longer before journeying to the Ivory Coast for the tournament. However, he is likely to miss several club games if his country perform well.

MORE: Where is FIFA World Cup 2026? Host countries, cities for next men’s tournament

When is Andre Onana back from AFCON?

Onana was named in the Cameroon squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, held in the Ivory Coast. His side will face Guinea, Senegal and Gambia in Group C, with those games running from January 15, 2024 to January 23, 2024.

Should Cameroon progress all the way to the final, Onana will not return to Man United until after that game on February 11, 2024.

When is the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations?

The Africa Cup of Nations starts on January 13, 2024, with the opening match between tournament hosts Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau. The tournament runs all the way to the final on February 11, 2024.

The AFCON includes six groups of four teams (A-F) with the top two automatically qualifying for the Round of 16 stage.

Those 12 teams will be joined by the four best-performing third-placed nations from the six groups, with criteria based on head-to-head results between teams and secondly head-to-head goal difference.

How many Man United games will Andre Onana miss?

Onana was included in the final Cameroon squad for the tournament after being recalled by head coach Rigobert Song.

The goalkeeper controversially announced his international retirement during the 2022 World Cup following a fallout with Song over tactics in Qatar, but the pair have since put aside their differences.

FIFA is yet to confirm a formal date for players to be released by their clubs and Cameroon have scheduled pre-AFCON friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and Zambia on January 8 and 9 respectively.

Cameroon have been placed in Group C alongside defending champions Senegal, Guinea and Gambia. Their full group-stage schedule is listed below.

Cameroon vs. GuineaJanuary 15
Senegal vs. CameroonJanuary 19
Gambia vs. CameroonJanuary 23

United face Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup Third Round on January 8 and a home Premier League game against Tottenham on January 14. While Onana was initially expected to miss both matches, he is now set to be available until after the Spurs match following discussions between the club and Cameroon’s football federation. As per The Athletic’s David Ornstein, an “amicable agreement” was reached whereby Onana will be able to play at Old Trafford before flying out to the Ivory Coast.

The Premier League takes a two-week break from January 15 to 28, and United will not return to league action until February 1, with a possible FA Cup Fourth Round on January 27-28.

If Cameroon are eliminated at the group stages, Onana will not now miss any United matches, but the picture is more complicated if they progress into the knockouts.

United have three Premier League matches on the schedule from February 1 to 11 and Onana’s availability will depend on how Cameroon fare at the tournament.

Man United fixtureCompetitionDateOnana status
Wigan Athletic vs. Man UnitedFA CupJanuary 8Likely absent due to friendlies
Man United vs. TottenhamPremier LeagueJanuary 14Absent for Cameroon vs. Guinea on Jan 15
TBCFA CupJanuary 27-28Available if Cameroon go out in group stages
Wolves vs. Man UnitedPremier LeagueFebruary 1Absent if Cameroon reach quarterfinals
Man United vs. West HamPremier LeagueFebruary 4Absent if Cameroon reach semifinals
Aston Villa vs. Man UnitedPremier LeagueFebruary 11Absent if Cameroon reach final

Who will replace Andre Onana for Man United during AFCON?

United will be looking to reduce the impact of losing Onana regardless of the length of his absence for AFCON.

Despite his mixed start to life at United, the former Inter Milan keeper has been ever present, completing every game across all competitions since the start of 2023/24.

The most likely candidate to step in as cover is Turkey international Altay Bayindir who is still waiting for his United debut since joining from Fenerbahce in September.

Bayindir will be an experienced alternative for manager Erik ten Hag and he is expected to get the nod over Tom Heaton and Radek Vitek.

2023 Africa Cup of Nations schedule, dates

Hosts Ivory Coast kick off the opening fixture against Guinea-Bissau on January 13 in Abidjan.

The Round of 16 starts on January 27, with the quarterfinal and semifinals beginning on February 2 and 7 respectively.

Group Stage January 13-24, 2024
Round of 16January 27-30, 2024
QuarterfinalFebruary 2-3, 2024
SemifinalFebruary 7, 2024
Third place playoffFebruary 10, 2024
FinalFebruary 11, 2024

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