In the space of just four games, Tresor Mputu has succeeded in bettering the number of goals accrued by both top marksmen in last year's CAF Champions League.
Yesterday, another hat-trick from the in-form striker gave TP Mazembe Englebert of Congo DR a ticket into the third round of Africa's top club competition and took Mputu's personal tally in this season's Champions League to nine goals. Last year, Al Ahly's Mohamed Aboutrika and Didier Ya Konan of ASEC Abidjan shared the distinction of finishing as the tournament's top scorers, but both managed eight in the entire tournament, spread over three knockout rounds, the group phase, the semi-finals, and in the case of Aboutrika, the final.
Mputu's rampant form has been noting short of remarkable and as well as making him the toast of his country, it has left the prolific goalscorer with a great chance of forcing his way back into the Congolese national side for this weekend's CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ethiopia. His goals also ensured that Mazembe took their place in April's third round alongside seven former winners: holders Al Ahly of Egypt, Algeria's JS Kabylie, Wydad Casablanca and Royal Armed Forces of Morocco, Esperance of Tunisia and ASEC Abidjan from Côte d'Ivoire.
ASEC, with coach Patrick Liewig beginning a four-match touchline ban, needed second half goal from Emmanuel Umoh, their Nigeria import, to make sure of securing an unconvincing 3-1 aggregate win over FC Kallon of Sierra Leone.
The most high-profile casualty of the weekend were five-time champions Zamalek of Egypt, who drew 2-2 at home with Al Hilal of Sudan on Saturday night to crash out 4-2 on aggregate. Amr Zaki opened the score for Zamalek late in the first-half before Eke Goodwin Ndubuisi severely dented their hopes with a 78th-minute equaliser. Substitute Gamal Hamza restored Zamalek's lead three minutes from time but they still needed two more goals to secure an unlikely reprieve, and another Nigerian, Kelechi Osunwa, ended any hopes in stoppage time, ensuring the latest in a number of shock results in the Champions League.
Egyptian pride was salvaged 24 hours later when Al Ahly won 2-0 against Highlanders of Zimbabwe to go through in routine fashion, defender Shadi Mohamed and Angolan striker Flavio grabbing the goals.
Elsewhere, Cameroon's Coton Sport took advantage of two dismissals for Sewe Sport and ran out comfortable 4-0 winners - the biggest win of the weekend - over their Ivorian opponents in the second leg of their second round tie at Garoua on Sunday. The 4-1 aggregate triumph saw the Cameroonian champions book a third round meeting with JS Kabylie.
Alim Hamadama had equalised the aggregate score line in the 19th minute and Coton Sport went 2-0 ahead when Francis Litsingui scored eight minutes into the second half. By that time Ivorian defender Ollo Kambou had been sent off after picking up a second yellow card, and he was joined for an early bath by Sylvester Nene Bi Tra, who also picked up a second booking from Chadian referee Saradoum Ndoubangar. The Cameroonians made the most of their numerical advantage, with Moussa Nassouropu and Alex Nimely scoring twice inside three minutes as the clock ticked down to full time.
The most regrettable incident of the weekend came when Rwanda army club APR FC walked off three minutes from the end of their tie in Togo in dispute over a penalty awarded against them. APR FC were level on aggregate with their Togolese hosts Maranatha Fiokpo on Sunday when the spot kick was awarded in the 87th minute, the second penalty given against them inside two minutes.
APR FC had won the first leg in Kigali 2-0 a fortnight ago but were 2-0 down to goals from Allassani Daouda and Ayi Assiongbon when the incident occurred, leaving the referee to call a premature end to proceedings. The outcome of the tie and any disciplinary measures will now be decided upon by the CAF.