ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — Ghana president John Atta Mills said the country’s World Cup players will be given national honors and $20,000 each after making Africa proud with their performance in South Africa.
“You deserved to be honored because you have made Ghana and indeed Africa proud by your performance,” Mills said Tuesday at a lunch held in honor of the team, which was greeted by cheering fans on its return to Accra on Monday night.
“You did not win the World Cup but, through your performance, you carried high the flags of not only Ghana but Africa,” he added.
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 quarterfinal loss to Uruguay in a penalty shootout.
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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 and Ghana’s dream of becoming the first African team to make the World Cup semifinals ended when it lost the shootout.
“For a moment, my reaction to those last minutes of drama was ‘how unfair’,” Annan wrote in the open letter which was addressed “Dear Black Stars.”
“But in fact, while you lost the game, you came out winners,” the letter said.
“I wanted to congratulate you not only on a fantastic performance in which you can take great pride, but also for accepting your defeat with dignity. You won because you were such great ambassadors for the game — and for Africa.”
Ghana was adopted as Africa’s team during its journey to the last eight of the tournament. The other five countries from the continent all failed to qualify for the second round.
“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.”