LONDON (Reuters) - World champions Argentina will fight over Olympic women's hockey gold with title holders Netherlands on Friday in what could be a fast, thrilling and open match between the two top ranked teams in the world.
A victory for Argentina would not only give them the treble of the three most prestigious hockey titles - world, Olympic and Champions Trophy gold, it would also crown their captain Luciana Aymar's illustrious career.
Aymar, who turns 35 on the day of the final, has won all titles but Olympic gold. From her three previous Olympics, she has taken home a silver and two bronze medals.
This final will be Aymar's last stab at gold as the record seven-time world player of the year, has said she will retire from international hockey after London.
"It's going to be a classic. In the past few years Argentina have played Netherlands many times and set the standard of hockey," Argentina coach Carlos Retegui said.
"I just hope we see the best match in history. It would be great to do it in London, because we have a great stadium and the crowd are brilliant," he added.
Snatching gold from the Beijing winners will be no easy feat. The Netherlands have not dropped a point in the London tournament and, after scoring no goals in the group stages, their skipper found her goal-scoring form in the semi-finals.
Two penalty corners by Maartje Paumen, who scored 11 goals in Beijing, put the Dutch level with New Zealand, who had pulled ahead twice. The Dutch, however, had to go through a penalty shootout to get through to the final.
The Dutch and Argentines will face off at 3 p.m EDT on Friday after Britain and New Zealand fight over bronze at 1430.
Britain will want to end their campaign with a victory, having lost three times in a row, while the Kiwis will want to secure their first Olympic women's hockey medal.
(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt; editing by Toby Davis)
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