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Linda Motlhalo: Banyana Banyana midfielder joins Swedish club Djurgarden

9:45 PM IST 16/01/20
Linda Motlhalo South Africa
After a memorable season with Beijing Phoenix in 2019, the midfielder has completed a move to the Swedish side

Linda Motlhalo has joined Swedish Damallsvenskan outfit Djurgarden from Chinese club Beijing Phoenix, via Houston Dash on a two-year deal.

Motlhalo became a free agent following the expiration of her contract with Beijing in January 2020 after she helped the Chinese women's top-flight club to a fifth-place finish in the 2019 season.

The 21-year-old, who moved from National Women's Super League side Houston Dash to China last year, starred for South Africa as they played at the Women's World Cup for the first time in 2019.

Following a season outing in the USA and China, the Banyana Banyana star has resolved to test her strength in Europe, joining the Swedish top-flight outfit ahead of the 2020 season.

Commenting on Motlhalo's acquisition, the club's team manager Jean Balawo has described her signing as a huge bargain for the Stockholm based outfit.

"Great deal that Linda has joined us. A playable midfielder who is very difficult to access as her ball holding is huge and who also can find and put her teammates in better positions to get to an end product," Balawo told the club website.

"Despite her young age, she is a leader on the pitch and Linda has also faced two good and tough challenges in the US and China as well as played over 40 international matches."

On completing her move, Molthalo said: "I am very happy and expectant to come to Stockholm and play for Djurgarden."

"I look forward to new experiences and to experiencing a new atmosphere, says Linda via a crisp connection from South Africa and she has a good track record at Damallsvenskan.

"I know it's a good league with the sharp competition. I also know that Djurgården has historically been a good team even though it was really tough last season."

The JVW FC product, who has earned 44 caps for South Africa with nine goals, has previously featured at the 2016 Rio Olympics and recently the Women's World Cup in France last year.

"I debuted in South Africa's A-team when I was 17, so I have had quite a few international matches by this time," she continued.

"Of course, I hope there will be more in the future. If you look at the characteristics, it is a goal-oriented, ball-savvy and offensive player who joins the team.

"I work hard on the pitch, want to be involved in the game and am versatile when it comes to positions.

"Then, after all, I'm not the biggest physical player on the pitch, but I always invest 100 percent in close quarters and am strong mentally. 

"I hope I can join in and contribute to getting us higher up in the table this year. Hopefully, we can join the upper tier, says Linda, who joins the team when all the papers are in order.

"I need to get my visa ready but as soon as it's done I go to Sweden. I'm looking forward to it."

And Balawo's side will hope the arrival of the South African will bolster the squad in the new campaign after they narrowly escaped relegation last season.

On sealing their switch to Sweden, she becomes the second South African to play for the Swedish top-flight outfit after Stephanie Malherbe starred for the team last season.

Motlhalo is expected to team up with Djurgarden in the coming days from South Africa as soon as she secures her entry visa to Sweden.