28 August 2018 –Prior to their league match against Sky Blue FC, Linda Motlhalo made a short prayer to the heavens that it should grant her the needed grace to score her first goal in Houston Dash FC colours.
The Banyana Banyana international had played 14 matches at her new club without finding the back of the net and that was beginning to frustrate her a bit because one thing the player enjoys is being a menace for the opposition and scoring goals.
They say where there is a will, there is a way and in Houston Dash match this past week, Motlhalo’s prayers were answered.
The Banyana striker scored the club’s opener with a beauty of a curling shot following a rebound from the opposition goalkeeper who had failed to clear off a Rachael Daly attempt.
It was Motlhalo’s first goal for the club but that 22nd minute effort also meant that she, at 20, became the fourth youngest player to have ever scored in the history of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
The 6-1 win over Sky Blue also mean that the club had reached a milestone. This was their highest goal scoring record in a league match since they started competing in the NWSL.
Motlhalo stated that she felt overjoyed when she found the back of the net, adding that scoring goals is her first love.
“Any attacking player will tell you that they either want to see themselves on the score sheet or contributing massively with assists up in the final third,” Motlhalo says. “And that is what I wanted to do in that match. I wanted to score. I even spoke to Janine (van Wyk) about it and I am glad it finally came.”
At Dash, Motlhalo plays in a different position as compared to the one all South African football loving fans know her for.
Dash coach Vera Pauw has assigned her to play as a central defensive midfielder, where her primary role is win all midfield battles. The Banyana attacker does not mind playing in that position. In fact, Motlhalo stated that she has embraced the challenge her coach has given her adding that it will see her transforming into a far much better player.
“And that’s just how coach Vera is,” Motlhalo says, almost marvelling at how much she learned from her coach. “She sees the potential in people and works with them tirelessly up until she transforms them into players she believes they can be. I find that to be truly amazing.”