London - South Africa's medal charge at the Olympic Games has started on a low note after Banyana Banyana were crushed by Sweden in the Olympic Games' soccer tournament in Coventry on Wednesday night.
World No 4 Sweden won 4-1, after leading 3-0 at half-time.
Sweden got off to a cracking start, 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 African women 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 45m out that lobbed over the goalkeeper'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 a brace.
Modise's strike seemed to wake the Swedish women from their slumber as they pushed forward again, but the Banyana defence, anchored by 'keeper 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.
The Games officially start with the opening ceremony in London on Friday night.
Results on Wednesday from the Olympic women's soccer event:
Britain 1, New Zealand 0
Japan 2, Canada 1
United States 4, France 2
Brazil 5, Cameroon 0
Sweden 4, South Africa 1