|Maxwell Konadu is a football coach and a retired Ghana international football player.|
Friday’s match between Ghana and Ivory Coast confirmed the country to seal the 15th ticket for the competition with the Elephants grabbing the slot.
Their 1-0 win over the Local Black Stars in Abidjan ensured that the result was 2-2 on aggregate but the Ivorians advance on away goals rule.
The Ghanaians recorded a 2-1 victory in Kumasi in the first leg.
Earlier matches were played last week as the games saw 12 teams join host nation Rwanda and DR Congo, who progressed following the withdrawal of Central African Republic.
The return legs of the final qualifying round offered very few surprises, with the exception of Ethiopia, who overturned a two-goal deficit to get past Burundi.
Defeated 2-0 in Bujumbura in the first leg of their Central-East Zone tie, the Walya Antelopes sealed a 3-0 victory in Addis Ababa on Sunday to go through 3-2 on aggregate.
In the Northern Zone, Morocco enjoyed a 3-2 win over Tunisia in Radès in a dead rubber showdown, with the two nations already guaranteed a place at the final tournament.
After taking a two-goal lead into the return leg, West Africa representatives Guinea, Niger and Nigeria sealed their qualification on the road. And while the Mena and the Eagles cruised to the finals with comfortable draws in Lomé and Ouagadougou respectively, the Syli only progressed on the away goals rule after a 3-1 loss to Senegal in Dakar.
Fellow Western heavyweights Mali also booked their spot at the tournament, playing out a 1-1 draw with Mauritania in Nouakchott to go through 3-2 on aggregate.
Stunned 0-1 by Chad in Libreville in their Central Zone encounter, Gabon had the last word, courtesy of a 2-0 victory in the first leg in N’Djamena. And Uganda completed their 4-0 thrashing of Sudan on aggregate in the Central-East Zone to book their trip to neighbouring Rwanda next January.
Southern representatives Zambia and Zimbabwe settled for a 1-1 draw in Matola and Maseru respectively, following convincing home wins over Mozambique and Lesotho in the first leg. While South Africa bowed out of the continental competition despite a 2-1 win in Luanda, after falling 0-2 to Angola on home soil in the first leg.
The remaining two spots will be decided this on Saturday with Congo welcoming Cameroon in Brazzaville on Saturday.
Cameroon and Congo played out a goalless draw in Yaoundé.