Mali head coach Alain Giresse says he personally thanked Serge Aurier for saving the life of Mali striker Moussa Doumbia.
The Paris Saint-Germain defender reacted quickly to prevent Doumbia from swallowing his tongue after he was knocked unconscious during the first half of Mali’s World Cup qualifier with Ivory Coast in Bouake on Saturday.
Giresse was grateful for Aurier’s “superb reaction” to the danger after Sunderland defender Lamine Kone had caught Doumbia with a high elbow as they jumped for an aerial ball in the hosts’ penalty area.
“Lamine Kone, who is 30 kilograms heavier than him, completely beat him [Doumbia] and destroyed him with his elbow,” Giresse told RMC.
“All the players then realise that Doumbia is going to swallow his tongue and choke. That’s when Aurier, with one of our players, quickly put him on his side and pulled out his tongue, because he was about to lose his life.”
However, Aurier later caused controversy when he celebrated with a throat-slitting gesture after his cross forced Salif Coulibaly to turn the ball into his own net for the home side’s second goal.
It is the latest contentious incident to involve the 23-year-old this year.
He was suspended by PSG in February after he was filmed making derogatory remarks about former head coach Laurent Blanc on social networking app Periscope.
Last month, Aurier was given a two-month prison sentence for elbowing a police officer, though he remains free pending an appeal.