Zambia served notice of their credentials as potential champions after a thumping 7-1 victory over Madagascar on the opening day of the 2017 COSAFA Under-17 Championships in Mauritius on Friday.
South Africa were also first day winners in Group B as they saw off Mozambique 3-1 in the opening game of the tournament, which runs until the final on July 30.
Lameck Banda and Martin Njobvu both scored hat-tricks for the Zambians as they cruised to the win having taken a 6-0 halftime lead.
The Malagasy can take heart from the fact that they largely held Young Chipolopolo in the second period, but it is still a result that highlights Zambia’s tag as being among the pre-tournament favourites.
It took just nine minutes for them to open the scoring as Banda was set-up by Njobvu, before the latter got on the scoresheet himself from Muma Mumba’s pass.
Kingsley Hakwiya converted a free-kick from Andrew Phiri to make it 3-0 just past the half-hour mark, before Banda completed his hat-trick before the break, and Njobvu added another.
It took half an hour into the second period for Njobvu to complete his hat-trick when he skirted past three defenders to score.
Madagascar were awarded a penalty with a little over 10 minutes to go and grabbed a consolation when Mamisoa Andriamalala converted.
South Africa also completed a fine win over Mozambique thanks to a brace of goals from Mohammed Shahabodien and another via James McFarlane.
They did, however, have defender Barry Sithole sent-off, while Mozambique grabbed a consolation from Gerson Novela.
South Africa opened the scoring on 17 minutes when Shahabodien finished, before he added a delightful second, dancing past two defenders before firing home.
McFarlane added the third just before the hour-mark when he converted a corner from Boikanyo Segotlong.
Mozambique pulled a goal back mid-way through the second half from Gerson, and South Africa had to hang on at the end when Sithole received his marching orders.
The host nation Mauritius will start their campaign on Saturday when they host regional powerhouses Zimbabwe at the Stade St Francois Xavier (kick-off 15h30 local; 11h30 GMT).
Before that, Botswana and Malawi do battle at the same venue (12h00 local, 08h00 GMT) as the teams seek to take the initiative in Group A.
FRIDAY’S GROUP B RESULTS
South Africa 3 (Shahabodien 17’, 38’ McFarlane 58’) Mozambique 1 (Gerson 65’)
Zambia 7 (Banda 9’, 31’, 37’, Njobvu 19′, 42′, 74′, Hakwiya 31’) Madagascar 1 (Mamisoa 79’pen)
SATURDAY’S GROUP A FIXTURES
Botswana vs Malawi (KO 12h00 local, 08h00 GMT) – Stade St Francois Xavier
Mauritius vs Zimbabwe (KO 15h30 local, 11h30 GMT) – Stade St Francois Xavier
Group A P W D L GF GA Pts
Mauritius 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Malawi 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Botswana 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Zimbabwe 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Group B P W D L GF GA Pts
Zambia 1 1 0 0 7 1 3
South Africa 1 1 0 0 3 1 3
Mozambique 1 0 0 1 1 3 0
Madagascar 1 0 0 1 1 7 0
Matches Played: 2
Goals scored: 12
Biggest victory: Zambia 7 Madagascar 1 (Group B, July 21)
Most goals in a game: 8 – Zambia 7 Madagascar 1 (Group B, July 21)
3 goals – Lameck Banda (Zambia), Martin Njobvu (Zambia)
2 – Mohammed Shahabodien (South Africa)
1 – Mamisoa Andriamalala (Madagascar), Kingsley Hakwiya (Zambia), James McFarlane (South Africa), Gerson Novela (Angola)