Lazarus Kambole struck a sensational hat-trick inside four minutes in the 3-0 demolition of Mbabane Swallows away on Saturday, to push Zesco United’s quarter-final bid to the last day of group matches.
It was a recovery for Zesco who had suffered a setback in their previous match away at Primiero Agosto.
Although Saturday’s victory could not lift Zesco into the top two, the Zambians were left with a good chance of progressing to the quarter-finals ahead of their last match against Etoile at home.
Zesco arrived in Swaziland stuck at the foot of the table, but are now on third position with just a point behind second-placed Agosto who have six points.
Victory over Etoile next week will be most needed while they pray that Agosto lose at home to Swallows.
But it was Kambole’s first half hat-trick that stole the limelight on Matchday Five.
Swallows started the match more threatening in the early stages with Quadri Aladeokun and Njabulo Ndlovu coming close before Kambole turned the tables.
The Zambia international forward opened his account on the 39th minute after pouncing on a rebound following his initial shot had been blocked by Swallows goalkeeper Sandanezwe Mathebula.
A minute later, Kambole fired home from the edge of the box, before completing his treble two minutes before halftime when he beat, from long range, Mathebula who was way off his line.
The result set up Zesco’s hosting of Etoile into a potentially explosive encounter.
Although basement side Swallows lost, they are still within a chance of going through to the last eight if they beat Agosto away next week, while Zesco lose to Etoile.
Meanwhile in Sousse, unbeaten Etoile were held to a 1-1 draw by Agosto who took an early lead through Dany, only to capitulate late in the game.
It appeared as if Agosto had snatched a vital away win but Amine Chermiti struck back for Etoile with just three minutes before the final whistle.
To book a quarter-final berth, Agosto will now need to beat Swallows at home in their last group match without being concerned on what happens between Zesco and Etoile.