Mali manager Alain Giresse has thanked Ivory Coast defender Serge Aurier for "saving the life'' of Moussa Doumbia on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Doumbia, a forward for Russian side Rostov, was knocked unconscious after a challenge with Sunderland defender Lamine Kone.
Paris Saint-Germain defender Aurier, according to Giresse, then prevented Mali player Doumbia from swallowing his tongue.
Giresse, who won 47 caps for France during his playing days, sought out Aurier after the game, which the Ivory Coast won 3-1 in Bouake, to praise his actions.
Speaking to French radio station RMC, Giresse said: "All the players realised that Doumbia was going to swallow his tongue and choke.
"Serge Aurier, with a player from us, had the quick reflex to move his hand and to remove his tongue because he was about to lose his life.
"Aurier had a tremendous reflex. I talked to him after and I even thanked him for his composure.''
However, during the same game, the right-back appeared to celebrate his side's second goal with a throat-slitting gesture.
Aurier has attracted controversy in the past, and was given a two-month prison sentence in September for assaulting a police officer.
He is unlikely to serve any time in prison and PSG said at the time of sentencing he would appeal.
Aurier was also suspended by the club in February after making disparaging remarks about then PSG coach Laurent Blanc and some of his teammates ahead of their Champions League meeting with Chelsea.
He later apologised for the comments he made during a live question-and-answer session on Periscope, but landed a three-game ban from UEFA for remarks made about referee Bjorn Kuipers on Facebook.