Hosts open with hard one

China's beloved Steel Roses kick off their 2008 Women's Olympic Football Tournament in Tianjin on 6 August with a difficult test against European powers Sweden. The earlier match from Group E will pit heavy outsiders Argentina against North American debutantes Canada.

The games
Argentina-Canada, Wednesday 6 July 17:00 (local time), Tianjin
China-Sweden, Wednesday 6 July 19:45 (local time), Tianjin 

The context
Argentina arrive at the Olympic finals with a big point to prove. Last time they were in China, at last year's FIFA Women's World Cup, they lost all three of their group matches, conceding 18 goals and scoring only one. Carlos Borello's new-look side will have a tough one in their opener. Even Pellerud's Canadian debutantes only just missed out on a CONCACAF title and are hunting big things in their first Olympics finals.

China have been on a steady and troubling decline since reaching the final of the 1999 Women's World Cup. At last year's finals, which they hosted, the Steel Roses went out in the quarters to Norway. New coach Shang Ruihua is hoping to right the ship with a youthful, new-look side, but it will be no easy task, up against Athens 2004 fourth-place finishers Sweden. Although they failed to reach the knockout stages of last year's Women's World Cup, the Scandinavians play a stylish brand of football and coach Thomas Dennerby has found a useful blend of youth and experience.

The player to watch: Christine Sinclair (CAN)
The best player in the history of Canada's women's program, Sinclair, 24, burst onto the scene in 2002 when she scored ten goals and led the Canadian youth side to the inaugural FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup on home soil. After a seamless leap to the senior team, she is now the country's all-time top scorer and aiming to add to her tally of 87 goals in 113 caps in China this summer.

The numbers game
1 -
the number of times any of the teams from Group E have appeared on the podium at the three previous Women's Olympic Football Tournaments. China took silver behind the USA at Atlanta 1996.

The quotes
"You always dream of being an Olympian as a kid, and now it's happening. Every day we get a little more excited about it," Canada striker Christine Sinclair.

"It's good to be back in China, so now we can make amends for the Women's World Cup there last year," Sweden striker Lotta Schelin.

The question
Do you think Canada can medal in their first Women's Olympic Football Tournament?