Just like four years ago at the City of Coventry stadium, London, South Africa got their Rio 2016 campaign off to a losing start against Sweden at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday. But this time, The Girls were a lot more disciplined and held there own strongly, thereby restricting their opponents to a meagre 1-0 scoreline; Niller Fischer scoring the decisive goal in the 76th minute.
The defender was also on target when the Swedes humbled a somewhat jittery Banyana Banyana 4-1 at the 2012 Olympics. Her opening goal in the 7th minute paved way for a 3-0 rout by half time.
However in Rio, it was difficult for Sweden to unsettle South Africa’s resilience even though they could have gone ahead in the first five minutes of the game they largely dominated, when Sofia Jakobsson’s shot bounced off the crossbar.
South Africa’s Roxanne Barker did have her moments of brilliance in between the sticks to ensure the first half ended goalless.
In the second period, Pia Sundhage’s charges picked up from where they stopped in their quest to subdue Banyana Banyana’s defence.
But before they would succeed, Vera Pauw’s girls who had to endure limited attacking opportunities and were rather caught offside most of the time, enjoyed their best chance of the evening when Mamello Makhabane saw her inswinging cross force Hedving Lindahl to a smart save at her near post.
Afterwards, it was Nilla Fischer taking advantage of a scramble at the other end to seal the win for Sweden as South Africa’s defence failed to clear their lines.
South Africa will next confront Asian heavyweights China PR in Group E on Saturday.