Needing a point from their final Group E match against Central African Republic – and aware that a defeat to the visitors could see them miss out on qualification – the Black Stars named the Crystal Palace No. 9 as captain for the winner-takes-all clash in Ashanti.
The occasion also marked Ayew’s 91st cap for his country, making him Ghana’s all-time fourth highest appearance maker.
The match did not get off to an ideal start for Ghana, with Louis Mafouta firing Central African Republic into a 25th-minute lead, but goals from Mohammed Kudus and Ernest Kuamah turned the match around and saw Chris Hughton’s team finish top of Group E.
Ayew explained afterwards: "You know in football, sometimes it does not go the way you want. You know you can go one goal down, but you still have 70 minutes to play and you have to never give up, and that was my way of thinking.
“I tried to transfer it to the boys and 1-0 down, I was still confident, because sometimes you struggle in a game but you still need to push. Even before the game, I told them if we go 1-0 down, we need to keep pushing, because if we get the next goal we’d win the game – and that’s what happened.
“That's the beauty of football: it's full of emotions. We are proud that we have qualified because it wasn't easy. The most important thing was to qualify.”