By James Agberebi:
Former Nigeria international Tijani Babangida has lamented the Flying Eagles' failure to take part in this year's FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea which starts on Saturday, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The Flying Eagles were knocked out on away goals by Sudan in the qualifiers for the CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
After winning the first leg 2-1 in Khartoum, the Flying Eagles lost 4-3 inside the Teslim Balogun Stadium hence crashing out.
Africa's representatives at this year's edition are CAF U-20 AFCON champions Zambia, 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 Completesportsnigeria.com.
"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."
The Atlanta 1996 Olympic gold medallist and France 1998 World Cup star advised the Nigeria Football Federation on how to avoid such occurrences in future.
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."