Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba underwent surgery on Friday night to repair his broken elbow in his bid to salvage his football World Cup hopes.
Drogba suffered the injury during a friendly game against Japan in Switzerland. A wave of dismay swept across Ivorian football when the forward was helped off the pitch in distress in the 19th minute of match following a clash with the opposing defender Tulio, off whom a Drogba free-kick had earlier deflected to give Ivory Coast the lead.
Drogba was taken to hospital in Sion, Switzerland, where the Ivorians have been undergoing altitude training.
"He may have an operation, but he is not out. He got a bad injury, a bone close to the elbow is broken, but he is going to a specialist and we will take it from there. We will wait until tomorrow evening. The doctors they can't say any more than that," Ivory Coast manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson, was quoted as saying by The Guradian.
Drogba earlier informed French journalists that the injury would prevent him from playing in the World Cup but later retracted that and said an operation could salvage his hopes.
"He's not at all out of the World Cup. He can still play," said a spokesman of Ivorian Football Federation.
Tulio, who was born in Brazil, spoke of his regret about the incident and said there had been no intent to cause harm.
"It was a very physical game for both sides, and unfortunately that injury happened," he said.
"Drogba and I ran into each other while chasing a loose ball and, in fact, I got there first. He bounced off me and I could see it was something bad happened when he started screaming in pain. But everybody at the stadium saw I did not mean to hurt him. These things happen in football and I just hope Drogba recovers in time for the World Cup.
"I am not this kind of player and would never have gone over the top, especially in a friendly match so close to the World Cup. They were also getting physical on us, but nothing nasty. It's just a shame this happened."
When told that Drogba may not play in South Africa, Tulio exclaimed: "Oh, God. This is unfortunate. I feel really sorry for him and his team."
Eriksson said that the match had been a robust encounter but exonerated the Japanese of any wrongdoing.
"It's a physical game and the Japan player did not want to hurt Didier. It was a competitive match and it got physical at some points, but there was nothing bad," he said.