Marco Tardelli has admitted he is 'scared' by what Zlatan Ibrahimovic could do to the Republic of Ireland's World Cup dreams.
The Republic welcome Sweden and their enigmatic striker to the Aviva Stadium on Friday evening for a game which could go a long way towards determining which, if either, of the sides has a chance of making it to the finals in Brazil next summer.
Ireland drew 0-0 in Stockholm in March on a night when the Paris St Germain star largely failed to live up to his billing.
However, Tardelli, manager Giovanni Trapattoni's assistant, knows only too well what Ibrahimovic can do and fears the consequences of failing to contain him.
Asked if a series of injury problems for the Swedes would benefit Ireland, he said: "I hope so - but the best player is on the pitch and I am very scared about him because he is a very good player.
"He is the first player in Sweden. Ibrahimovic, for us, I would prefer to stay out.
"Ibrahimovic is a player who, if he decides to play, he plays very well and scores goals.
"Sometimes it can happen that he doesn't play very well, but I would prefer to have him in my team, very much. He is in the top 10 players in the world, he can do everything."
The Republic, Sweden and Tuesday night's opponents Austria are currently locked in a tooth and nail battle for second place in Group C with leaders Germany five points clear of the developing scramble beneath them.
In the circumstances, defeat in Dublin is unthinkable for Trapattoni's men if they are to keep alive their hopes of qualification with a tough trip to Vienna to come.