First division Milford dump Kaizer Chiefs out of Nedbank Cup

Goalkeeper Hleza the hero for Motsepe Foundation Championship campaigners

25 February 2024 - 21:15
By Marc Strydom
Milford FC goalkeeper Siphamandla Hleza collects an aerial ball during Sunday's Nedbank Cup last 32 shock win over Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images Milford FC goalkeeper Siphamandla Hleza collects an aerial ball during Sunday's Nedbank Cup last 32 shock win over Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium.

Goalkeeper Siphamandla Hleza was the star of the show for Milford FC, but Kaizer Chiefs were also culprits in their own demise as they were embarrassingly dumped out of the Nedbank Cup last 32 5-4 on penalties by the amateur team on Sunday night.

Coach Xanti Pupuma’s KwaZulu-Natal side, who compete in the Motsepe Foundation Championship, fought for every challenge and barely bothered attacking. They absorbed the pressure Chiefs piled on their defence and also rode plenty of luck to take the game to 0-0 after extra time.

Chiefs missed chances throughout the 90 minutes, especially in the second 45 of those. Milford keeper Hleza also put his name in lights with a string of good saves. These included a penalty stop from Amakhosi striker Ranga Chivaviro in extra time.

As if that were not enough, Hleza scored the winning kick in the shoot-out. 

Milford were reduced to 10 men when right-back Vsusmuzi Mthabela received a second booking in the 121st minute.

For Chiefs, who are battling in sixth place in the DStv Premiership, the result confirmed the ailing Soweto giants will go to a staggering ninth season without silverware. The cold, harsh reality Amakhosi must face is that they are on the verge of going a decade without a trophy if they cannot get their act together in 2024-25.

At what stage do the brains trust at Naturena face up to the fact what they have been doing for a decade — and the decade before that, which led to the decline — has been far from a successful formula?

Milford had a chance in the second minute, Mthabela driving with decent power for keeper Bruce Bvuma to hold comfortably.

After that it was one-way traffic in the other direction, somehow Chiefs conspiring to spurn a multitude of good scoring opportunities.

Amakhosi's best chance — and an early opportunity to relieve the pressure of opening the scoring — fell to Ashley du Preez in just the fifth minute. Christian Saile’s cross from the right found Du Preez to slide in but he had to stretch to get to the delivery and, with Hleza nowhere and an open goal beckoning, the striker somehow struck the crossbar.

To Milford’s credit they limited Chiefs to shots from outside the area for the rest of the opening half, all three of them from Nkosingiphile Ngcobo. The midfielder struck wide of the upright two minutes after Du Preez hit the woodwork, then had two more efforts on the turn — one over the bar, the other stopped by Hleza — as the break approached.

Moments after the restart for the second half Happy Mashiane’s cross from the left found Edson Castillo sliding in for a contact under pressure from a defender, but just wide of the left upright.

From a Saile cross Mduduzi Shabalala forced an excellent save from Hleza and Mashiane struck the rebound wide. From a Du Preez cross substitute Mfundo Vilakazi volleyed straight at the Milford keeper, and Castillo headed just off target moments later.

Defender Edmilson Dove, marauding up the right, cut onto his left foot and struck powerfully from a narrow angle, Hleza making another good stop.

With five minutes remaining another substitute, Chivaviro, made space for himself on the edge of the box and drove at goal, Hleza pushing the effort onto the left upright.

That was the last chance to decide the match in the 90 minutes and the game went to extra time. 

In the 113th Chivaviro lifted the ball off his right boot under the attention of Mthabela, seemingly looking for handball. The ball duly struck the defender’s hand and referee Xola Sitela pointed to the spot.

Hleza had more heroics in him, the keeper falling to his left to stop Chivaviro’s poorly-placed spot-kick.

Mthabela received a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Shabalala to be dismissed with just under 10 minutes of the extra period left.

In the shoot-out, for Chiefs’ Yusuf Maart, Chivaviro, Du Preez and Dillan Solomons were successful.

Edson Castillo ballooned his kick well over.

For Milford, Christopher Mbhele, Bulelani Sigomoshe, Ngxongo, Olwethu Cele and Hleza scored.