Jonas Sakuwaha completed a hat-trick in little over 30 minutes to shake up this year's CAF Champions League at the weekend. The Zambia striker had missed Zesco United's first two matches in Group A, but his return following trials at various European clubs inspired a 3-2 defeat of Al Merreikh in Sudan.
It was the first away win in this year's league phase and revived United's hopes of reaching the semi-finals - something they will achieve if they finish in the top two positions in Group A, which is now led by Al Hilal. The Sudanese giants beat the previously unbeaten Kano Pillars 2-0 on Friday to end the first half of the round with seven points from three games, three clear of their latest victims and Zesco.
Al Merreikh now sit at the bottom of the pool with just a single point. Sakuwaha, who was in London in midweek playing for Zambia in a friendly against Ghana, opened the scoring in the fifth minute, added a second nine minutes later, and then converted a penalty in the 34th minute to complete his treble.
"It feels nice to score three goals in a game. My performance was excellent and I look forward to more in the future," Sakuwaha said afterwards.
Zesco will be boosted by the availability of another key forward, Enock Sakala, for their next match at home to Al Merreikh on 30 August in Chililabombwe, after he completed a two-game suspension. "It will be a bonus to have Enock back in the team. He holds the ball and he can also score," said Zesco coach Fighton Simuonda.
Mazembe, Heartland win big
In Group B, though, results continue to go with home advantage, with
both Mazembe Englebert and Heartland recording emphatic victories in front of their own fans at the weekend. The pair are now level on six points at the section's summit, but will be on their travels for their next outing in a fortnight's time.
Mazembe goal-getter Alain Kaluyitukadioko struck thrice as the Congolese side beat Monomotapa United of Zimbabwe 5-0 on Saturday. After a pedestrian first half, the hosts came alive thereafter in Lubumbashi, largely thanks to the introduction of Patou Kabungu, who scored one and was an incessant threat to the visitors.
Heartland underlined their title intentions with a 3-0 win over former champions Etoile Sahel. Uche Agba scored for a second successive match to fire the Nigerians in front just past the half-hour mark, before Joshua Abaje added a second just before half-time. Okey Nwadike came on in the second half to seal the victory.