6 February 2019 – Banyana Banyana players Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana have conveyed their greatest gratitude to Houston Dash in the USA as they parted ways with the club by mutual consent, and the pair is now in search of new clubs.

The duo spent one season in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) side, where they joined defender Janine van Wyk – captain of the South African Senior Women’s National Team.

The trio was the first South Africans to play in the USA – and have now all left the club.

Motlhalo registered with Houston Dash under former Banyana Banyana head coach Vera Pauw at the beginning of February 2018 from JVW FC, and was followed by Kgatlana from UWC a fortnight later – both are in the Sasol League.

Speaking to SAFA.net, the players said they are close to signing new deals.

“We cannot say much at the moment but we are very close to confirming new clubs as negotiations are at a very advanced stage and we could sign very soon,” said Kgatlana.

“It is true though that we have left Houston Dash, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the club for everything they have done for us. They gave a great chance to grow our careers and we will never forget that. They opened their doors for us and made us feel comfortable. We were home away from home. But above all, they took a chance with us and allowed us to showcase the South African talent in this highly-competitive league –  we are forever indebted to them. And gratitude also goes to former coach of Houston Dash Vera Pauw, who initiated our move.”

In a statement, the club said they appreciated the services rendered by the pair but could not stand in the way of them looking for a move elsewhere.

“We are grateful for everything Linda and Thembi have given the club. We wish them best as they begin the next chapter of their career. We would have loved to have them join us in 2019, but we understand the complexities of the global game and the interest in players like Linda or Thembi. This now gives us roster flexibility, including an open international spot as we continue to build the 2019 Houston Dash,” said Houston Dash coach James Clarkson.

The two players have been selected to be part of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana squad of 23 players that will participate in the 12thedition of the Cyprus Women’s Cup, which takes place from 27 February to 6 March 2019.

The competition is a continuation of preparations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in June.

The South Africans assemble on Wednesday, 20 February and depart on Saturday, 23 February.

Banyana Banyana’s first match at the tournament is against Finland on Wednesday, 27 February, followed by a clash with North Korea two days later (Friday, 1 March). The last group stages match is against the Czech Republic on Monday, 4 March.

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