MONTREAL — A mix-up that left defender Ambroise Oyongo stranded in Brussels for an extra day may cost the Montreal Impact a key starter for a game Saturday against the Chicago Fire.
The Cameroon national team neglected to get Oyongo a plane ticket to return to Montreal after their victory over Guinea in a friendly match Tuesday in the Belgian capital. He was supposed to return on Wednesday.
Impact coach Mauro Biello said Oyongo was due to arrive on Thursday.
"It's frustrating for me because he's stuck in Brussels when we want to prepare the team and we've already got key guys out of the lineup," said Biello, who will be missing midfielder Ignacio Piatti and defender Laurent Cimon in Chicago. "That's a key guy and now he hasn't been able to come in (to train).
"It was difficult with what happened with the federation and these things sometimes play on the mindset of players. You hope things get solved and his mind is clear and he'll be back ready to help this team. I'll speak with him and see where he's at."
It is up to a country's soccer federation to get players to and from international matches. However Oyongo, the starting left back who helped Cameroon win the African Cup of Nations last month, was left behind without a return ticket to Montreal.
He told the Cameroonian website CamFoot.com "I'm here waiting and no one is answering.
"You give your heart, your soul, your life for your country but others don't acknowledge your value. But don't worry, we're born and raised in Cameroon. We won't abandon our country."
Oyongo's Impact teammates were not amused.
"If it was a few years ago maybe I would laugh about the situation but when I read that I was not happy because this kind of situation has been there since a lot of years," said defender Hassoun Camara. "He just won the African Cup and, when you see that a federation can treat a player like this, it's disappointing.
"I hope this is not going to happen next time and that he comes with the right mentality. We need him. It's tough when you're not treated the right way by your national federation."
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press