Onana played in Cameroon’s first match of the tournament, a 1-0 defeat by Switzerland, but was named as “absent” on the official teamsheet for Monday’s 3-3 draw with Serbia, with back-up keeper Devis Epassy taking up the gloves.
Spanish outlet Marca claimed that manager Song took issue with Onana’s high-risk style playing out from the back with his feet, which was the catalyst for a heated argument between the pair.
Song said he dropped his starting goalkeeper for “disciplinary reasons,” but didn’t give any specifics. The Cameroonian football federation later confirmed the news.
“In a group you need to respect the rules that apply to everybody, and I prefer to ensure that the team takes precedence over individuals,” Song said. “If you can’t fit in with what’s required to be part of a squad, then I do think that you need to step up to the plate and accept responsibility for that.”
Song replaced Onana with Epassy, who made only his sixth international appearance as Cameroon drew 3-3 with Serbia.
“I took a risk, I realise that,” Song said. “Maybe we’re going to have to explain what happened later.”
The Cameroonian football association, Fecafoot, later added that it “reaffirms its commitment to create a peaceful atmosphere for the team”.
“The Cameroon Football Federation reiterates its full support to the Head Coach and his entire staff,” the statement read, “as they implement the Federation’s policy aimed at preserving discipline.”
Onana, who has 34 international caps, made no comment on the decision except posting the starting line-up, with his notable absence, on Instagram.
Epassy said he found out Sunday night he would replace Onana, who offered him encouragement.
“We don’t have any problem together,” Epassy said. “It’s my role to be ready.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press.