Banyana star: I was nervous

Motlhalo, who is coached by former Banyana mentor Vera Pauw, was named in the starting line-up for the first league game of the season against Chicago Red Stars at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston on Sunday. The attacking midfielder played 77 minutes in a game which ended 1-1.

“It was my first professional game and I was very nervous before the match but after the warm-up I felt better and ready to get going. One thing I did not do was to put myself under pressure because I knew that for me to have a good game, I would have to come out of my shell, out of my comfort zone and do what was needed of me,” Motlhalo told the Safa website from the US.

“I am also grateful to my teammates who have been helpful from the first time I got here. They have been motivating me on and off the field. In terms of play, US play direct football with one or two touches on the ball, which is far different from what we play in South Africa where we have lots of skillful players – but I am adapting very well.”

Motlhalo is happy that he is working with Pauw again, because she is able to bring the best out of the players she works with.

“It’s always a pleasure working under coach Vera. She brings out the best in a player because she understands players. I am very grateful for the opportunity she has given me,” she said.

Houston Dash will play Utah Royals in their second league match on Saturday.