Tag Archives: Loyola Meralco Sparks

Meralco Manila Blazes Past Stallion Laguna for First PFL Win

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FC Meralco Manila could not have asked for a better start to their Philippines Football League campaign. The Sparks were in top shape and inflicted a 5-1 hammering of Stallion Laguna FC yesterday at the Binan Football Stadium in Laguna.

Curt Dizon became the League’s first ever goalscorer in the ninth minute. Alvin Sarmiento and Meralco captain James Younghusband connected with Dizon in attack before the forward sent his shot past Roland Sadia.

Stallion’s new foreign signing Ryota Ishikawa made it 1-1 at the half-hour mark. The Japanese reinforcement struck a well taken free kick that took a deflection before beating Ace Villanueva.

However, Meralco answered right back in the 36th minute. Milan Nikolic placed a weighted ball into the path of Tahj Minniecon, who finished it from a tight angle to put the Sparks up, 2-1, at the half.

Nikolic extended Meralco’s lead just minutes into the second half. The defender delivered a thunderous header past Sadia.

The Younghusband brothers took over in the latter stage of the match to complete the rout. James Younghusband rifled in a shot from outside the box in the 58th minute. Phil Younghusband scored the fifth goal with a close ranged header to seal the three points for Aris Caslib’s side.

“We have to give credit to everyone in the whole (FC Meralco Manila) organization for all the hard work they have put in,” said Caslib after the match.

Meralco Manila’s next assignment will be against Ilocos United on Saturday, May 13th at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Stallion will be away against Ceres Negros also on the same day at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. — CAL

PFL: What We Know So Far

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Philippine club football is set to reach greater heights this year. Global FC, by virtue of winning the UFL League and the Cup last season, are set to be the first Philippine club to participate in the AFC Champions League preliminary stage while Ceres-Negros FC gained a direct berth into the AFC Cup group stage.

Aside from participation in AFC club competitions, the Philippine Football Federation is set to launch the much awaited Philippines Football League by April of this year. The following is what we currently know about the League at the moment.

1. It will be a professional League

Announced last September 2016, the PFL will be a professional, national league where clubs play against each other in a home-and-away league format.

“The league we will form is a professional league, with professional club and professional players,” said Atty. Edwin Gastanes last September.

Pursuant to AFC’s regulations, Gastanes stressed that a minimum of six clubs is required to be recognized as a national league. The PFF initially pegged the deadline on December 31, 2016 but has since been extended it to accommodate other teams interested to join.

“We can’t have a national league, professional league if we don’t have at least six teams,” added Gastanes.

The PFL being a “professional” league also means that all players and employees shall be able to rely on football as a living — no more part-time players. Additionally, all club and player contracts and other monetary deals will be better structured and monitored.

2. Ten teams have applied for the League

According to a case study by AC Nielsen in 2015, 14 cities/provinces were identified as possible home bases for clubs: Manila, Makati, Quezon City, Marikina, Pampanga, Sta. Maria and Bocaue, Bulacan, Laguna, Bacolod, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga.

As of January 20, 2017, 10 teams have submitted their license applications to the PFF. Clubs are required to meet several criteria to get a license. The criteria, which is based on AFC’s stringent Club Licensing Regulations are the following: sporting, infrastructure, personnel and administrative, legal, financial, and club identity.

Global, Ceres, Loyola, Kaya, and Stallion were the first five teams to submit their applications to the PFF and have already chosen home cities or provinces. Global, renamed Global Queen City FC, will play their games in Cebu. Ceres-Negros FC is set to use the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod for their home games as well as their AFC Cup matches. Kaya-Makati have recently announced that the University of Makati will be their home field. Stallion Laguna tapped the Binan Football Stadium in Laguna last year and have been using the facilities ever since. Loyola is set to use the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig City.

By the end of 2016, PFF President Mariano Araneta said that 90% of the teams had already confirmed their participation in the PFL. The PFF President announced then that JP Voltes FC had submitted their application for the PFL. Green Archers United became the seventh team on board after announcing on social media that they had sent in their application before the Christmas break.

Last week, the number of applicant clubs reached ten. TV5’s Erel Cabatbat reported that three more clubs had expressed their intention to join the PFL. According to Cabatbat’s report, teams from Davao, Ilocos Sur, and an unnamed tenth team “have expressed their intentions in joining the league.” Cabatbat also quoted Gastanes saying that the PFF will formally finalize the participating teams by February 2017.

3. There will be a League and possibly a Cup competition

During the September press conference, the PFF also announced that the tournament format of the PFL will be a modified home-and-away league type. It will follow the format similar to Australia’s Hyundai A-League where teams play in a home-and-away double round robin league followed by a play-off championship series.

Gastanes also said in September’s press meet, that a national cup competition is also in the works to complement the league. An incentive to the clubs joining the PFL is that the champions of the League can be nominated to play in next year’s AFC Champions League or AFC Cup. Previously the champions of the UFL League and UFL Cup gained spots in AFC’s club competitions.

However, should a club become eligible to play in AFC’s club competitions, they should also adhere to AFC’s rules and regulations. One such requirement for a club to participate in the AFC Champions League, for example, is that they must play a minimum of 27 matches and that the duration of the national top division should run for at least eight months.

The final season of the UFL saw the champion team, Global, play a total of 27 matches (19 League matches and 8 UFL Cup matches) in a span of nine months to meet one of the criteria to play in the AFC Champions League.

With only a few months left before the launch of the League, expect the PFF and the clubs to unveil more information as the Philippine football community braces for its first professional, national football league. — CAL


1. Philippine Football Federation. (2016). Club Licensing Regulations for Philippines Football League. Retrieved from http://pff.org.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/PFL-Club-Licesing-2016.pdf
2. Cabatbat, Erel. (2017, January 9). 9 teams–PFF secretary general Atty. Ed Gastanes reveals at least nine teams have signified their intentions to join the Philippines Football League this coming March. [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BPB7dbNgTig/
3. Cabatbat, Erel. (2017, January 17). 10th team–Philippine Football Federation secretary-general Atty. Edwin Gastanes says they have already relayed all the requirements needed to a party that expressed its intention in joining the Philippines Football League. [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BPWUlrAgLta/
4. Asian Football Confederation. (2016). Entry Manual – AFC Club Competitions 2017-2020. Retrieved from the-afc.com/uploads/afc/files/entry_manual_entry_manual_for_afc_club_competitions_2017-2020_09112016.pdf

Global, Ceres to Rep Philippine Club Football in 2017 AFC Club Competitions

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Philippine club football takes a huge step forward as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirmed that the Philippines will have at least two representatives in next year’s AFC club competitions.

Global FC created history by becoming the first Filipino club to participate in the AFC Champions League preliminary round. The AFC Champions League is Asia’s top-tier club competition and is headlined by several teams from Australia, China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

“It’s a huge privilege and responsibility to represent the Philippines at the highest level of (Asian) club competition,” said Global Chief Executive Dan Palami, who has seen his side claim a series of firsts. Global were the first team to participate in both the defunct AFC President’s Cup and the AFC Cup in the past.

Global qualified to the AFC Champions League as UFL League champions. They will face a familiar foe in Singapore’s Tampines Rovers FC in the AFC Champions League first preliminary round on January 24.

Should Global advance to the next round, they will face A-League side Brisbane Roar in Australia on January 31. The play-off match against China’s Shanghai Shenhua is set for February 7 and will determine who will join Japan’s Kashima Antlers, Thailand’s Muangthong United, and the winner of the another play-off tie in Group E.

“Being the first club in the Philippines to be actually competing at this level, we have to absorb the birth pains that a first timer would have to go thru,” added Palami. “Hopefully those that will represent the country in the future, hopefully ourselves as well, will learn a lot from (the tournament).”

In the event that Global fails to qualify for the AFC Champions League, they will join Ceres-Negros FC in the AFC Cup. Ceres qualified to the AFC Cup as the second placed team in the League after Global also won the UFL Cup last April. Originally, the League champions and the Cup winners earn a spot in the AFC Cup.

The AFC Cup will have an updated format for next year with five zones allocated to each region, West Asia Zone, Central Asia Zone, South Asia Zone, East Asia Zone, and the ASEAN Zone. Both Global and Ceres are in the ASEAN Zone. The AFC Cup kicks off on February 2017.

Global are provisionally in Group F with Malaysian powerhouse Johor Darul Ta’zim FC (or Kedah FA), Myanmar’s Magwe FC, and either Cambodia’s Boueng Ket Angkor FC or Laos’ Lao Toyota FC. Loyola Meralco Sparks FC will take Global’s place in the AFC Cup group stage if Global goes all the way to the Champions League group stages.

Ceres are in Group G and will play Vietnam’s Hanoi T&T FC (or SHB Da Nang FC), Malaysia’s Felda United FC, and Singapore’s Tampines Rovers (or Geylang International FC). — CAL

Stallion Deny Loyola’s AFC Cup Dream

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The Loyola Meralco Sparks FC’s bid for an AFC Cup slot ended after Stallion FC forced a 2-2 draw last night in the penultimate day of the United Football League at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

With the Sparks’ final haul of 41 points, they finish in third place behind Ceres-La Salle FC, who are still to play JP Voltes. Unfortunately for the Sparks, even in the event that Ceres drops the match to JP Voltes, they will still not finish second as the Bacolod side hold a much greater goal differential.

“It’s one of those days. It’s very disappointing that it becomes at this point, but we could be proud of the fight we put out this season,” said Sparks coach Simon McMenemy. “We’ve gone against the odds, worked when we’re down in numbers, battled the whole way and we kept going all the way to the last day of the season. I cannot ask anything more from the players.”

It was Stallion’s seventh draw in the League. Ernie Nierras’ side put in a spirited performance to finish their season on a positive note.

“Stallion players play with heart,” said Nierras. “This was the last game, it did not mean anything to us, but the players thought they didn’t want to end this season on a low.”

Fitch Arboleda surprised the Sparks with the opening goal in the first minute of the match. The Stallion winger was unmarked and rifled in a shot from 35 yards out that left Ace Villanueva helpless.

Arboelda’s opener left the Sparks in disarray at the back as Stallion invited themselves into the Sparks’ own half. Phil Younghusband almost levelled the match in the 36th minute but Ref Cuaresma had a touch on the shot.

The Sparks were given a lifeline right before half-time. Kouichi Belgira’s cross to the path of Simon Greatwich was bundled in by David Basa inside the six-yard box. The scores were level at the half, 1-1.

Ruben Doctora reclaimed the lead from Stallion just eight minutes into the second half. The Stallion skipper muscled his way past Anto Gonzales and slotted the ball in past Villanueva.

Knowing only a win can salvage the Sparks’ season, Greatwich forced another deadlock in the 65th minute. The midfielder fired a shot from long range and in to the top corner as the Sparks confidence grew heading into the final minutes of their season.However, the winning goal never came to be. Cuaresma forced a save on Daniel Gadia’s low shot from long range in the 87th minute. The former Loyola goalkeeper was not finished as he tipped over Joaco Canas’ header to break the hearts of the Sparks, who once again faltered during a game that could have defined their season.

McMenemy also announced that he is leaving the Sparks after this season. “I don’t know, but it’ll be a chapter I won’t be involved in next season,” said the former Azkals coach. “I’m sure there are plans in place, talking to people. I have to think that this won’t happen again for me.”

In the first match, Robert Lopez-Mendy struck four goals as Kaya FC defeated Forza FC, 5-0. Charlie Beaton was the other goalscorer for Kaya.

The season finally comes to a close today. Ceres-La Salle FC take on JP Voltes in the final match of the season at 5:00 PM. The awarding ceremonies follows right after the match. — CAL

Loyola Snatches Second, Knocks Kaya Out of Contention

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The Loyola Meralco Sparks nailed an all-important 2-1 win over Kaya to move themselves up to second place and put pressure on the trailing pack last night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Goals from Phil Younghusband and Joaquin Cañas put an end to Kaya’s aspirations of finishing second in a highly intense match. The match also marked the return of night games at the stadium. RMS’ lighting installation meant the matches in the past few months had to be played during daylight hours.

The Sparks are now in a good position to finish second with 40 points. JP Voltes FC, who claimed a 3-0 default win over Laos FC in the first game, also improved to 38 points, level with Ceres-La Salle FC, but behind on goal difference. The Sparks, JP Voltes, and Ceres-La Salle are still in contention for a spot in next year’s AFC Cup after Global FC claimed the League and Cup double.

“I’m just very pleased today that the boys held on and [they] deserved everything they got today,” said Sparks coach Simon McMenemy. “We put ourselves a chance at AFC Cup action. This is a horrible game to take something from. It’s always tight and to have the three points today is very very satisfying.”

Younghusband put the Sparks ahead in the 25th minute. The Sparks forward was left unmarked in the box and launched a ferocious volley from a Kouichi Belgira delivery from the left flank. The Sparks held a 1-0 lead at the break.

Canas doubled the lead from close range just eight minutes into the second half. Younghusband provided the assist with an inviting cross which allowed the defender to convert.

However, Eric Giganto brought Kaya back to life, scoring in the 57th minute to make it 2-1. Kenshiro Daniels released Jovin Bedic with the long ball, forcing goalkeeper Ace Villanueva to come off his line. Bedic’s shot hit the post but Giganto was there for the follow up into an empty net.

The last 30 minutes saw the Sparks’ rely on their makeshift defensive line of Canas and Anto Gonzales. The rather diminutive Gonzales, who is the head coach of the University of the Philippines’ football teams, put on a man of the match performance on defense and kept Robert Lopez-Mendy at bay the whole game.

The same can also be said for Villanueva. The goalkeeper came on as a last minute replacement for Guilherme Hasegawa. The Brazilian goalkeeper picked up an injury during the warmup. The UP standout rewarded his side with two match-winning saves late in the match to deny Kaya the equalizer. It is interesting to note that Villanueva played his whole college career coached by Gonzales and has one more year to play in the UAAP.

“What Anto lacks in physicality, he makes up for it in the knowledge and know how. He knows what he’s doing even if he’s not playing in that position and he just proved it today. For a guy in his 30s to put a performance like that was phenomenal,” said McMenemy after the match. “(Ace) didn’t expect to start and for him to come in and pull in two saves, he had a very solid game.”

Today, Green Archers United FC and Stallion FC square off in the first game at 5:00 PM. The match between the newly-crowned League champions Global FC and dethroned champions Ceres-La Salle follows at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available at the gate. — CAL

AFC Cup Spot on the Line as UFL Returns to Evening Kickoff

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With Global FC already crowned champions of the United Football League, the race for second place intensifies tonight as the League makes a return to evening kick off times at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

As it stands, four teams have a realistic chance of finishing in second place and winning a spot into next year’s AFC Cup. Three of those teams, namely JP Voltes FC, Kaya FC, Loyola Meralco Sparks, will have the chance to improve their standings tonight.

Fourth-placed JP Voltes look like they have an easier route ahead of them as they face bottom table Laos FC in the first game at 5:00 PM. The newly-promoted side took the League by storm by posting a number of impressive results including a 2-0 streak-ending upset over champions Global FC.

JP Voltes ran riot over Laos in a 4-0 win in the first round with Takashi Odawara netting a brace while Alen Angeles and Takumi Uesato also scoring.

The second game pits bitter rivals Kaya FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks FC in the 7:30 PM kick off. The Sparks are currently in third place with 37 points. Kaya, on the other hand, are in fifth with 34 points and are coming off a 6-0 blowout win over Green Archers United.

Kaya came away with a 1-0 win in their first round meeting last July. Robert Lopez-Mendy’s eighth minute strike was enough for Kaya as the Sparks failed to convert their chances.

The LBC-backed squad is expected to have a complete squad for the clash. The Sparks, however, is hoping for skipper James Younghusband’s fitness. The winger picked up an injury last Monday as the Philippines bowed to DPR Korea in a 1-3 defeat.

A win for any of the three teams playing tonight will increase their chances of getting a somewhat firmer hold of second place.

Tickets are available at the gate. — CAL

Stephan Schrock Shines as Ceres Drubs Loyola

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Their backs to the wall, Ceres-La Salle FC came out blazing. The Bacolod side claimed a convincing 4-1 win over the Loyola Meralco Sparks to revitalize their bid for second place on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Stephan Schrock put on a mesmerizing performance for the defending champions. The Azkals midfielder made the Sparks pay for their defense by scoring a hat-trick to put Ceres in prime position for second place.

Risto Vidakovic’s side moved back into second place with 35 points, level with JP Voltes. Ceres, however, hold a sizeable gap on goal difference with +79 compared to Voltes’ +31. Both Ceres and Loyola also have games in hand over Voltes.

“It was crucial for us (to win) because if we lose today, our league (campaign) is done but now we still have a chance on second,” said Vidakovic. “We have two games left and we have to give our best.”

Schrock broke the deadlock just eight minutes into the match. The midfielder sent a looping free kick that caught Sparks goalkeeper Guilherme Hasegawa off his line.

The Ceres midfielder continued on with a second goal in the 21st minute. Hasegawa made a blunder when his short pass fell into the path of Bienvenido Marañon. The Spaniard released Schrock inside the box to score the second goal of the match.

The Sparks, despite being unable to penetrate the defense, came close to getting a goal back in the 34th minute. James Younghusband was on the end of a Phil Younghusband corner but headed the chance wide. The first half ended with Ceres in the driver’s seat at 2-0.

It turned from bad to worse for the Sparks as Manny Ott made it 3-0 in the 51st minute. Schrock delivered the inviting ball for Ott to finish from just inside the penalty area.

Schrock completed his hat-trick in the 82nd minute. The midfielder went one-on-one with Hasegawa and slotted it to the far post.

The Sparks did get a consolation when Simon Greatwich scored in the 88th minute, but it was not enough. Ceres now have the upper hand in the race for second place.

In the first game, Kaya FC walloped Laos FC, 8-0. Louis Clark fired a hat-trick while Kenshiro Daniels added a brace. Sean Kane, Junior Muñoz, and Janrick Soriano added the cherries on the top. — CAL

Ceres, Loyola Battle for Second Place in Six-Pointer Clash

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Defending champions Ceres-La Salle FC look to save their season as they take on the Loyola Meralco Sparks in a crucial battle for second place today, September 24, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Bacolod side have been on a free fall in the second round and have only collected a total of four points since Risto Vidakovic took over the side. Last week’s 1-0 defeat to Kaya was the knockout blow to Ceres’ already faltering title defence.

On the other hand, the Sparks head into the match with renewed vigor after their come from behind 3-2 win over JP Voltes last week. Tahj Minnicon, Phil Younghusband, and Kouichi Belgira gave life to the Sparks in that game. The Sparks are currently in third place, just a point behind second placed JP Voltes, who defeated leaders Global last Wedensday.

Both teams, and JP Voltes have been chasing Global for most of the season. With Global poised to claim the League title, the onus is now on the three teams to contest second place, and a spot into next year’s AFC Cup.

Sparks coach Simon McMenemy is relishing the chance to do the double over the Bacolod side. Curt Dizon, James Younghusband, and Alvaro Castiella were on target for the Sparks in their first round meeting which ended in a 3-2 win.

“We’ve got to give everything we’ve got (against Ceres),” said McMenemy. “They’re a really good squad and we have to match them. “If we match them, there’s a good chance that we can sneak something in with the quality of players we have.”

Kaya FC and Laos FC meet in the first game at 1:30 PM. Kaya whitewashed Laos in the first meeting, 10-2. — CAL

Global Inch Closer to League Title; Loyola Solo in Second

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League leaders Global FC continued their fine form in the United Football League with a 3-1 win over Green Archers United that pulled them closer to a third league title yesterday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Hikaru Minegishi struck in the opening minute to set the tone of the match. The winger chipped the ball over both the defense and goalkeeper Henri Bandeken Fong to give Global the lead just 16 seconds into the match. Arthur Kouassi, who made his return to the squad, added a second with a 35th minute header off a Matthew Hartmann free kick.

Chieffy Caligdong pulled one back from the penalty spot in the 48th minute after Reynald Villareal was fouled in the box. However, Dennis Villanueva restored the two goal lead with a clinical effort in the 60th minute.

The win put Global at 41 points with just four games left in their campaign.

In the second match, the Loyola Meralco Sparks rallied from a 1-2 deficit at the half to defeat JP Voltes, 3-2, to claim solo second in the standings.

Tahj Minniecon put the Sparks ahead in the second minute when the Australian winger caught JP Voltes stopper Nelson Gasic off his line and sent a low shot to the far post.

JP Voltes answered back with two goals to take a 2-1 lead at the half. Allen Angeles scored in the 12th minute after a well taken JP Voltes set piece. J Baguioro added a second just nine minutes later as Guilherme Hasegawa spilled the ball after what was supposed to be a routine save.

The Sparks mounted a comeback in the second half. Joaquin Canas won a penalty in the 54th minute after Nelson Gasic brought him down as the defender made his way into the box. Phil Younghusband levelled the match with the penalty kick.

Kouichi Beligra won it for the Sparks in the 74th minute. The winger was at the right place to finish off Simon Greatwich’s defense-splitting pass.

Sparks coach Simon McMenemy was relieved after the win. The Sparks, with 34 points, are behind leaders Global by seven points heading into the business end of the season. “It’s one of those games that we had to dig it out,” said McMenemy. “(JP Voltes) tested us to the limit today.”

The win was also crucial for the Sparks as they edged out both Ceres-La Salle and JP Voltes in the fight for second. All three teams are battling for an AFC Cup slot for next year.

“It was so crucial to get points after Ceres dropped points,” continued McMenemy. “We’re in the business end of the season, one mistake either way could cost us.”

Global FC will get a chance to inch closer to the League title when they play JP Voltes on Wednesday, September 21 at 4:00 PM. Stallion FC and Forza FC meet in the first game at 1:30 PM. Both games will be at Rizal Memorial Stadium. — CAL

Global, Loyola Settle for a Draw

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The battle between the first and second placed teams in the United Football League ended in a stalemate as Global FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks settled for a scoreless draw last Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The result allowed Global to extend their lead at the top of the table with 38 points. The Sparks, on the other hand, moved down to third place with 31 points.

Several national team players played in the match after their tight 2-1 win over Kyrgyzstan last Tuesday night (link to story). Misagh Bahadoran, Dennis Villanueva, Paolo Bugas, Patrick Deyto, Simon Greatwich, James Younghusband, and Phil Younghusband featured in the match.

Tahj Minniecon and Anton Del Rosario were the closest for the Sparks in the first half. The Australian had two chances on goal denied by the crossbar and the defender also saw his attempt hit the bar from the set piece.

Omid Nazari could have given Global the three points in the 77th minute. The winger had the goal at his mercy after an errant backpass, but he could only send it to the side netting.

Sparks goalkeeper Guilherme Hasegawa also had a hand in the scoreless draw. The Brazilian pulled off a couple of key saves against Global.

JP Voltes FC provisionally moved to second after a 3-0 win over Forza FC in the first match. J Baguioro struck twice in the first half and Renando Mantua Jr. added a third in the second half.

Laos FC and Green Archers United FC face off at 1:30 PM on Sunday. Stallion FC and Kaya FC battle in the second game at 4:00 PM. Both games will be at Rizal Memorial Stadium. — CAL

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