Former Nigeria international Tijani Babangida has expressed his sadness at the failure of Nigeria’s Under 20 side to qualify for this year’s FIFA U20 tournament which kicks-off this Saturday in South Korea.
After winning the first leg 2-1 in Khartoum, the Flying Eagles lost 4-3 inside the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos thereby failing to qualify for the CAF U20 tournament which serves as a qualifier for the big FIFA event.
Zambia which successfully won the CAF U20 tournament on home soil are joined by fellow semifinalists Senegal, Guinea and South Africa.
“Nigeria not qualifying for this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup is a sad development for our football,” Babangida, who was a member of the Flying Eagles squad that crashed out in the group stage of the 1993 U-20 AFCON in Mauritius, told Complete Sports.
“I have even forgotten that there will be an U-20 World Cup and it’s because Nigeria will not be there.
“This is one tournament in which we have done well in the past. I remember in 2005 when the Flying Eagles got to the final only to lose to Argentina. Also in 1989 we lost to Portugal.
“Aside from the fact that fans will be deprived the opportunity to watch the next big talents in Nigeria, it will also affect business especially the media. So not qualifying for this year’s edition is very sad.”
Babangida added: “I will urge the NFF to make sure we take every game seriously no matter how small the team we are playing. Because it wouldn’t be funny if we fail to qualify for the next edition in 2019.”
Babangida was part of the Dream Team that won gold at the men’s football event in Atlanta, USA during the 1996 Olympics and also featured in the squad that represented Nigeria in the FIFA World Cup in France, two years later