Banyana Banyana midfielder Linda Motlhalo has won a prestigious award in Europe.
Motlhalo has been awarded the Newcomer of the Season award after a good 2020 season in Sweden with Djurgadens IF. She played 21 games in all competitions scoring four goals.
This was the first season in Europe for the former Houston Dash star
It has been a beautiful journey since she started out with JVW FC in South Africa.
Her exploits with JVW caught the eye of former Banyana coach Vera Pauw who roped her into the American National Women’s Soccer League in February 2018. She moved to the USA alongside her national team compatriots Thembi Kgatlana and Janine Van Wyk. She made 21 NWSL appearances for Houston Dash before moving to China to join BG Rising Phoenix in 2019.
Motlhalo had a successful spell in China and played 14 top-flight appearances as Phoenix finished 5th in the 2019 season.
At international level, Motlhalo has been playing for the national team since the age of 17. She made her debut back in 2015 and she has went on to make 46 international appearances for South Africa.
In 2016, South Africa qualified for the Olympics games for a second time running and this offered a young Motlhalo an opportunity to play in her first major tournament with the national team and In 2018 she played a crucial role as Banyana Banyana qualified for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France after a final place finish at the 2018 African Women’s Cup on Nations in Ghana.
For the first time in history, the Cosafa nation played in her first ever Fifa Women’s World Cup and Motlhalo was part of the squad.
With a year left on her current deal, a strong 2021 campaign will open doors for better opportunities in Europe. The 2021 Damallsvenskan season is scheduled to kick off in February and the former JVW star will hope to continue with the same form as last season.
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By Prince Sobayeni