Olympics begin with Sweden beating South Africa in soccer

Ross Houston
August 4, 2016

Sweden's Sofia Jakobsson struck the crossbar early on before her team-mate Lotta Schelin went close with a venomous effort that was saved superbly by Roxanne Barker in the South Africa goal.

South Africa are ranked 46 places below the Swedes at 52 in the world but have an experienced squad, with 10 players representing Banyana Banyana in London four years ago.

For South Africa, it is a second successive appearance at the Olympics, which for women is played at full global level and marks another step in the progress of the game.

This year's competition is the most extensive ever among men's and women's soccer and requires that the matches get started two days before the Olympics are actually inaugurated on August 5 at Rio's Maracana stadium. Just not a very memorable one. The victor of Group E is due to take on the third place finisher in either Group F or Group G in the quarterfinal round, while the second-place finisher would meet the runner up in Group F which includes Canada, Germany and Australia.

At the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, site of Brazil's humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semifinal two years ago, the USA women's team opened its bid for a fourth straight gold medal with a 2-0 win over New Zealand.

Organizers will be hoping the 14 soccer games being played over Wednesday and Thursday will see excitement build ahead of Friday's opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium, which hosted the World Cup final two years ago.

As the Olympic torch relay reached Rio, there were fresh signs that strife could disrupt the games. Police used tear gas on Wednesday in further clashes as the torch was paraded through the streets of Rio.

The opening event of the Olympics was staged in a venue with a tainted association.

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