Bata: Ambitious Equatorial Guinea coach Esteban Becker has said he hopes his team can use the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations to build towards the dream of World Cup qualification.
Argentine coach Becker took over Nzalang Nacional earlier this month, meaning he had barely two weeks to put together a team in time for the Cup of Nations on home soil, which begins with Saturday`s clash against Congo Brazzaville in Bata in Group A.
But while matching their run to the Cup of Nations quarter-finals as co-hosts in 2012 must be an immediate target, Becker is looking further ahead, admitting that his ultimate goal is to lead a team to the World Cup.
"I have always dreamt of being at a World Cup and so all my energies will be directed at preparing our young team to have a shot at qualifying for the World Cup and the next one will be in 2018," said Becker, who three years ago led the Equatorial Guinea women`s team to win the African Women`s Championship in style.
"It`s a dream for a country that is strong but small."
Equatorial Guinea are only involved at the finals because the country stepped in to host the event after Morocco`s withdrawal - on the field they had been disqualified for fielding an inelgible player.
Becker has quickly put together a youthful team, with many players plying their trade in Spain.
"We have experienced players in (Javier) Balboa and Juvenal (Edjogo-Owono) and youngsters most of whom are playing for good teams in Spain like Mallorca, Malaga and Valencia.
"In 10 days we have put together a good group, we are mentally very strong and we have worked very hard on tactics."
Their run to the quarter-finals of the 2012 Cup of Nations is as good as they have done in any major men`s competition -- they have never come close to qualifying for the World Cup.
Nzalang Nacional have often been criticised for naturalising players outside Equatorial Guinea in a desperate bid to get results, but Becker maintained all the players who made the final cut for this tournament have their roots in the country.
"All the 23 players on this squad have their links with Equatorial Guinea, whether their father, mother or grandfather was born in this country," he insisted.