Jason McAteer’s World Cup participation has been placed in doubt by a former Cameroon international.
Hiroshima defender Bilong Pensee upended the Sunderland star with a vicious tackle in the 36th minute of the Izumo City friendly.
McAteer was stretchered off then sent to hospital for scans on a suspected knee ligament injury that could rule him out of Saturday’s World Cup opener.
And Bilong, a member of the Cameroon squad at the 1998 World Cup finals in France, apologised to the Irish team after the game.
« I am so sorry that this happened, » said the centre-back whose international career ended when he moved to Japan.
« I did not mean to cause Jason McAteer any harm and I can only apologise to him. I hope he makes the World Cup finals. »
Angry Irish players surrounded Bilong after his tackle left McAteer spread-eagled on the endline at the Hamayama Stadium.
Republic captain Steve Staunton said afterwards: « It was a poor tackle to be honest, very poor. Jason was in a lot of pain and we just hope he will alright for next week.
« There were a few players out there flying in with two footed tackles but the referee didn¹t seem to want to do anything about it.
« He only did something when we made a tackle. »
And two goal Irish matchwinner Robbie Keane said: « It was a bad tackle and unnecessary in a friendly game. The referee should have got a grip on the game but there is not a lot we can do about it now.
« Touch wood, he will be okay. To be fair to the lad who did it, he did come into the dressing-room to say he was sorry. »
Hiroshima manager Gaji Gajiev also apologised for the tackle that soured an otherwise jovial occasion in front of 11,000 fans.
Gajiev said: « The referee was standing nearby and he didn¹t see anything wrong with it but if it was wrong, then I am sorry for this.
« Before the game I told my players to be careful and to play it fair, so I am sorry. »