NUREMBERG, June 22 (Reuters) - Ghana midfielder Michael Essien said on Thursday they had qualified for the second round of the World Cup on behalf of the whole of Africa.
Ghana became only the fifth African team to reach the second round at a finals after a 2-1 win over the United States sent them through as runners-up to Group E winners Italy.
'We did our best today. We did it for Ghana and the whole of Africa so they should keep cheering us,' said Essien, who will be suspended for their last 16 match after his second booking.
Coach Ratomir Dujkovic added: 'It was a historic match but a nervous one for both teams. We've done it and we're satisfied.'
'This is a starting point for all Ghanaians, for this group of players and myself. The first time in the World Cup and we come in the top 16 in the world.
'We didn't play as we usually do but... the U.S. are a hard-working team. They pushed us hard all the time. We're very satisfied and very happy.'
Asked about Essien missing the next match, the Serbian coach said: 'Yes, but what can you do. Always in these tournaments you have to have substitutes for any position.'
Ghana won the match thanks to a harshly awarded penalty in first half stoppage time that was converted by Stephen Appiah.
German referee Markus Merk adjudged that Razak Pimpong had been pushed over in the area by U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu.
U.S. coach Bruce Arena said, 'We are very disappointed by the judgement of the referee... I would like to have come out after halftime even. The call was the big call of the game.'
'I've rarely seen something like that called,' said U.S. striker Brian McBride, who hit the post in the second half.
'It was a strange game. I felt we were in control for quite some time. They had very few chances but the ones they did get they scored.
'We hit a post. We stuck together and tried to push forward,' he said. 'If we had just got that second goal there's no telling what would have happened.'