Ghana team to be honored by government

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — Ghana's World Cup players will be given national honors and $20,000 each after reaching the quarterfinals in South Africa.

"You deserved to be honored because you have made Ghana and indeed Africa proud by your performance," Mills said Tuesday in announcing the accolades at a lunch for the team. The Black Stars were greeted by cheering fans when they returned to Accra on Monday night.

Ghana was adopted as Africa's team during its run to the final eight of the tournament. The squad came close to being the first team from the continent to make the semifinals; they were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Uruguay in the quarters. The other five African teams all failed to qualify for the second round.

"You did not win the World Cup but, through your performance, you carried high the flags of not only Ghana but Africa," Mills said.

As well as the cash bonus for the players, a government official said members of the coaching team would receive a reward of $10,000 each.

Former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, who is from Ghana, wrote in a letter to the team that he was one of millions left "heartbroken" after the Uruguay loss.

Ghana was denied victory when a blatant hand ball prevented a goal in the final seconds of extra time. Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty kick, forcing the shootout.

"You won because you brought us all together," Annan's letter said. "The lasting trophy to take away from the tournament is this incredible moment of unity."