Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- Ghana's President John Evans Atta Mills on Wednesday night congratulated the national football team, the Black Stars, for advancing to the next stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and u rged them to ''stand up to the challenge that would be posed by the United States of America'' on Saturday.
In a message shortly after the Black Stars squeezed through, he expressed confid ence in the team and expressed the hope that they would make it far in the first-ever World Cup in Africa.
Ghana plays the US in the round of 16 on Saturday.
President Mills also commended the handlers of the team for the feat, as well as Ghanaians for uniting to support the team ''to fly high the flag of Ghana''.
''As a nation, we must all rejoice in the qualification of the Stars, albeit mod estly, so that we do not have any downsides to the celebration,'' the President s aid.
Ghana made it to the next round despite losing 1-0 to Germany in their final Gro up D match played in Johannesburg.
Ghana placed second with four points, the same as Australia which beat Serbia 2- 1.
But Ghana had a better goal aggregate.
Germany topped the group with six points and Serbia was last with three points.
Meanwhile, newspapers have also lauded the Black Stars, who are the first Africa n team to reach the second round following the elimination of Cameroon, South Af r ica, Nigeria and Algeria.
''We've made it.
USA, our next target'' is the front-page banner headline of the state-owned Graphic which has a photograph of midfielder Dede Ayew and defender John Paintsil celebrating the qualification with a Ghana flag.
The Ghanaian Times, another state-owned newspaper, said ''We're there!'' The paper has the photograph of the Boateng brothers â" Kevin-Prince, who playe d for Ghana and Jerome, who played for Germany â" with the caption ''Blood is th ick â" even when in the opposing campsâ?.
The Times also carried the photograph of Ayew and Paintsil celebrating the quali fication.