Tough start for Banyana
26 July 2012 | Sapa-AFP
Sweden, ranked fourth in the world, got off to a cracking start in Coventry last night, hitting the crossbar twice before captain Nilla Fischer got a deflection off Refiloe Jane to put them ahead in the seventh minute.
After hitting the post again, the Swedish women stretched the gap with two goals in quick succession midway through the first half.
Lisa Dahlkivst tapped in a close-range effort in the 20th minute, and seconds after the restart Lotta Schelin slid the ball in from the edge of the box.
The South Africans managed to gain some composure and Portia Modise created their first chance in the 22nd minute but her shot sailed wide to the right.
Banyana skipper Amanda Dlamini also made a tame long-range attempt soon after but it was comfortably controlled by Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
Star striker Noko Matlou had perhaps Banyana’s best opportunity of the opening period, but she failed narrowly to connect with a cross in the area.
Sweden took their foot off the pedal for the remainder of the first half but the SA women struggled to take advantage and they went into the break 3-0 behind.
With Banyana still finding their composure against a Swedish side that seemed content to sit back in the second period, Modise netted a stunning strike on the hour mark.
Catching Lindahl off her line, the veteran striker blasted a shot from 45 metres out that lobbed over the keeper’s head to give the South Africans their first goal of the tournament.
The Swedes hit back immediately, however, when Schelin connected with a cross to tap in at the near post, securing brace.
Modise’s strike seemed to wake the Swedes from their slumber as they pushed forward again, but the Banyana defence, anchored by goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, managed to keep them out for the rest of the match. Banyana face Canada in their second Group F match in Coventry on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Brazil striker Cristiane became the most successful goalscorer in Olympic women’s football history as the South Americans opened their 2012 campaign with a 5-0 thumping of Cameroon.
Cristiane grabbed the fourth goal late in the second half at the Millennium Stadium. It was her 11th Olympic goal, meaning she is now the all-time leading scorer in women’s Olympic football, overtaking Birgit Prinz of Germany.
Meanwhile, the match between North Korea and Colombia eventually got underway after an hour’s delay caused by an embarrassing mix-up over national flags.
North Korea were angry after Hampden Park’s giant screen showed images of their players next to the South Korean flag before the match.
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