SA lose to Swe­den in first Olympic match

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

SOUTH Amer­ica’s first Olympic Games kicked off with women’s football yes­ter­day, when Swe­den beat South Africa 1-0 in Rio de Janeiro.

Al­though the open­ing cer­e­mony takes place to­mor­row, the football com­pe­ti­tions be­gan ahead of time with six women’s matches yes­ter­day and an­other eight men’s games to­day.

The open­ing ac­tion at Rio’s Olympic sta­dium was lack­lus­tre with few clear chances.

Nilla Fis­cher scored Swe­den’s win­ner af­ter 74 min­utes, bundling the ball into the net with her knee af­ter the South African keeper failed to hold a cross.

Swe­den were su­pe­rior, par­tic­u­larly in the first half, but could not turn pos­ses­sion into goals.

The re­sult means South Africa have yet to win an Olympic football match in their four fi­nals ap­pear­ances.

The sec­ond game in Group A took place later yes­ter­day when home side Brazil, seek­ing their first Olympic gold af­ter two sil­ver medal per­for­mances, took on China.

Hold­ers and No. 1 ranked side the United States played New Zealand at night in Belo Hor­i­zonte.

The men’s com­pe­ti­tion be­gins to­day, with eight games, in­clud­ing Brazil against South Africa and hold­ers Mex­ico ver­sus Ger­many.

Mean­while, Canada’s Chris­tine Sin­clair and Ja­nine Beckie scored to give Canada a 2-0 win over a tough Aus­tralia team in their opener of group stage play.

Beckie scored af­ter 21 sec­onds — the fastest goal in Olympic his­tory — to put Canada ahead early. Sin­clair added a much-needed in­surance goal at the 80-minute mark af­ter catch­ing Aus­tralia’s goal­keeper way out of her goal. She chipped the ball over the keeper’s head to score and fol­lowed with a pas­sion­ate cel­e­bra­tion.

The win boosts the Cana­dian women chances of ad­vanc­ing out of the group stage at the 2016 Olympics —

in Rio de Janeiro. Zim­babwe and Ger­many are also part of their group.

Things be­came dif­fi­cult for Canada af­ter 20 min­utes when She­lina Zadorsky re­ceived a red card for pulling down an Aus­tralian player who got be­hind the Cana­dian de­fence.

Coach John Herd­man re­acted by pulling So­phie Tan­credi and re­plac­ing her with the more de­fen­sive­minded Re­becca Quinn. Aus­tralia went on to show speed and dom­i­nate the rest of the first half.

Things changed in the sec­ond with Canada push­ing harder and even­tu­ally be­ing awarded a penalty kick af­ter an ap­par­ent hand­ball. Beckie shot straight at the goalie who made the easy save.

De­spite the set­back, Canada con­tin­ued to push, with Sin­clair scor­ing her first of the tour­na­ment.

Sin­clair, Canada’s cap­tain, is one of the team’s most re­spected vet­er­ans. Beckie has been a rock for Canada, scor­ing the win­ner against Brazil in stop­page time in the team’s last Oympic tune up in Ot­tawa on June 7 — a 1-0 Cana­dian win.

Yes­ter­day’s game was played at Arena Corinthi­ans in Sao Paulo, which is about 400 kilo­me­tres from Rio de Janeiro.

The Cana­dian women won bronze at the 2012 Olympics in Lon­don.

Canada’s next game is this Satur­day at 2PM against Zim­babwe be­fore clos­ing group play next Tues­day at 3PM. against Ger­many. —

Goal­keeper Rox­anne Barker (left) of South Africa and Fri­dolina Rolfo of Swe­den in ac­tion. Reuters

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