Motlhalo makes her debut for Glasgow City FC

Banyana Banyana Linda Motlhalo made her debut for new side Glasgow Rangers FC but could not help them to victory, as they played to a goalless draw against last year’s  Scottish Women’s Premier League champions, Rangers WFC on Sunday (29 January 2023).

Playing in a number 10 jersey, the midfielder was a 90th minute substitute, taking the place of Priscila Chinchilla.

The draw sees the Scottish side with a maintain a three-point lead over second placed Celtic.

Glasgow City FC next faces Partick Thirstle (Sunday, 5 February 2023) who are sixth on the table.

Motlhalo was unveiled this week by the Scottish side and the coaching staff wasted no time in introducing her to the league.

Prior to that, the Randfontein-born (Johannesburg West) star spoke to the Glasgow City FC media department, revealing that she moved from Djurgardens to Scotland as she needed a new challenge.

Motlhalo spent three seasons in Sweden before her contract ran out in November last year.

She was also on the books of Houston Dash (USA) and Beijing BG Phoenix (China).

In the 2022 season in the Damallsvenskan (Swedish league) that ended in November, Motlhalo played 26 matches to help Djurgardens end 10th in the 14-team league.

“Thank you so much, I feel happy being here. I know it’s cold now but I got a warm welcome from the girls and the coaches – and I came here because I wanted to experience a new environment. I was in Sweden for quite a while and wanted a new challenge and that’s why I chose Glasgow City,” Motlhalo told her new club’s media department.

The tiny but skillful midfielder started her playing career at the High-Performance Centre (HPC) under the auspices of the South African Football Association (SAFA) before she made her move to JVW, which was playing in the Sasol League at the time.

The club is owned by Banyana Banyana co-captain and defender, Janine van Wyk, who is now playing in Greece, but was also once on the books of Glasgow City FC along with South African striker Ode Fulutudilu.

“I got my development structure at JVW after leaving the HPC. When I got to Janine’s team everything was set up and she has really helped me develop as a player. I played with her for so many years and it was amazing. Janine has played a huge role in my life, and even in the national team she has always been supportive, and has always been my number one fan,” added Motlhalo.

“She was instrumental in me coming here to Glasgow City FC – telling me a lot about this team, adding that I am going to enjoy myself and will love the environment.”

Motlhalo says after being in the company of Janine and Thembi when she left South Africa to sign her first professional contract abroad (Houston Dash), she is now ready to stand on her own, as evidenced by her time in Sweden since 2020.

“The first time I went out outside of South Africa was when I signed in the USA, but I was not alone at the time as I had Janine and Thembi, so I’ve always had people around me and I was always comfortable. I never explored until I went to Sweden where I was alone and had to be independent. So, I’ve learned a lot throughout those years to stand up for myself and depend on myself,” she said.

The midfield maestro has signed with Glasgow City until 2025, putting her signature at a period when the 15-times Scottish champions are top of the table on 43 points – five ahead of second placed Celtic.

The South African is not the only player of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana to switch clubs in recent times.

These include:

  • Thembi Kgatlana – from Atletico Madrid (Spain) to Racing Louisville (USA) -July 2022
  • Jermaine Seoposenwe – from SC Braga (Portugal) to Juarez FC (Mexico) – August 2022
  • Refiloe Jane – from AC Milan (Italy) to Sassuolo (Italy) – August 2022
  • Janine Van Wyk – from JVW (South Africa) to Ergotelis (Greece) – September 2022
  • Noxolo Cesane – from UWC (SA) to Stade Reims (France) – September 2022
  • Linda Motlhalo – from Djurgardens (Sweden) to Glasgow City (Scotland) – January 2023
  • Kholosa Biyana – from Sporting Gijon (Spain) to UWC (South Africa) – January 2023

And the movement of the players is something that excites Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis.

“This goes to show just consistency is rewarded. Yes some of them their contracts were up for renewal but they did not struggle to get other clubs. It’s an indication that tournaments like the WAFCON are big and that is where you find scouts coming in numbers to have a look at the players,” said Ellis.

“This is also a plus for Banyana Banyana especially in World Cup year – to see these players making moves, but I must say that it is encouraging to see a fit Thembi after suffering such a big injury, she has performed very well in the last few months to be where she is. With Noxolo going overseas for the first time you must learn to adapt and sometimes it’s tough to get into teams, but we know her quality. So, all these movements are exciting and hopefully we can get more players going abroad.”

By Matlhomola Morake

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.