Former Platinum Stars striker Siphilele Mthembu scored a hattrick for the current Premier League leaders in what always seemed likely to be something of a mismatch against a team from the fourth tier of South African soccer, who are placed no higher than 10th in their amateur Castle League.
Yet after an hour’s play Chiefs were only leading 1-0 against their gallant, never-say-die opponents while looking anything but potential PSL champions.
Conspicuous in this lop-sided fixture was the fact that all four goals recorded were scored with headers, thereby demonstrating the relative inexperience of the team based 25 km from Pretoria in Soshanguva.
Edu Sports, however, gave almost as good as they got in the opening half and only capitulated in the closing final 30 minutes when they ran out of steam and Chiefs might have compiled more than their four-goal tally.
Chiefs might have had more than some desultory play to rue from the match when their former Bafana Bafana captain and goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune, who has been out of soccer with an injury for the best part of six months, was injured again and replaced in the 61st minute following a collision with teammate Morgan Gould.
It was the dominant, 27 year-old Mthembu who opened the score in the 18th minute with a no-nonsense header from one of a series of telling crosses by The Amakhosi.
But despite recording one of the few hattricks of the PSL season, Mthembu had a sufficient number of inviting opportunities to have doubled his bag of goals.
But like all of his teammates, Mthembu was less effective with his boots than he was with his head and scoring opportunities all-round that seemed cheaper by the dozen were squandered with regular monotony.
On the occasions that Chiefs were on target, the agile Dhlahdla in Edu Sports’ goal brought off a succession of brave and impressive saves to keep the scoreline down to a level of respectability.
Chiefs last failed to progress beyond the last 32 round of the Nedbank Cup in 2007 when they lost to Lamontville Golden Arrows, but they have been shocked by lower league teams in this competition on several times since and this seemed to weigh on their performanced in the early stages.
Chiefs started the match with several fringe players and brought on one or two more as substitutes, with one of them, Katlego Mphela, being the scorer of Chiefs’ fourth goal.
Mthembu ballooned the ball over the crossbar with a shot from five metres two minutes after scoring his and Chiefs’ second goal in the 63rd minute to virtually seal the outcome before Mphela made it 3-0 in the 84th minute and the “man of the match” made it 4-0 well into injury time.