Sunday, December 3, 2023

Olympics Hockey: Argentina set up Netherlands clash for women’s gold

Netherlands women will blare out Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now on the team bus on the way to the Olympic women’s final on Friday, while the traditional latin beats will accompany Las Leonas’ all-singing squad when the teams line up for a repeat of the Olympic final nine years ago in London.

Argentina will be chasing a first Olympic gold after holding off a stern challenge from India to prevail 2-1.

They will come up against a Dutch team unbeaten in 45 international matches and entering their fifth Olympic final in succession.

But Argentinian great Delfina Merino says the encounter will be “50-50” after stalwart and captain Noel Barrionuevo scored a PC double – her 197th international goal in 344 appearances, in her fourth Olympics – as Las Leonas came from behind after Gurjit Kaur’s corner goal opener.

“I think it will be really hard, because Netherlands is a really good team,” said Merino, who has experienced the Dutch players at close hand over a lengthy career having played in the Hoofdklasse, “but we will fight. It will be interesting it will be 50-50.”

Defeat for Sjoerd Marijine’s side ended a remarkable assault on a potential breakthrough final.

But the Dutch coach said that the “whole nation is behind” the India women’s team ahead of a bronze medal enncounter with Great Britain on Friday.

“I don’t think you can create something more beautiful than that,” he said of the support. “I think a lot because now women’s hockey is also taken seriously.”

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