While the games of the Rio Olympics won’t officially open until Friday’s opening ceremony, the women’s and men’s soccer competitions will get underway beforehand. Wednesday marks the start of the women’s soccer tournament, with Sweden and South Africa (Noon, ET on NBCSN) in the first of six matches on the day.
Captain Lotta Schelin will look to lead Sweden to its first-ever Olympic medal in the event, with their fourth place finish in 2004 representing the nation’s best finish. In South Africa the Swedes meet a team that enters the Olympics ranked 52nd in FIFA’s world rankings, their highest ranking since 2013 (50th). South Africa lost their last three tune-ups for the Olympics, including a 1-0 defeat to the United States July 9. In their most recent friendly South Africa lost 4-1 to New Zealand July 27.
Sweden enters the match favored to grab all three points, and getting off to a good start will be key with an eye towards the knockout stage. The winner 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. Also in Group E are hosts Brazil and China.
Reminder, if you can’t get to a television it’s also available on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.