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.”