"From the desk of..."

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Here you can post responses to our new "From the desk of..." feature, which are commentaries and announcements by Ajax USA's Publisher, Editor and Staff Writers.

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2001

Answers

I read the article again,and found out that in one of the pictures there's a Greek flag waving next to an Israeli one.Is there an explanation about this,or just Dutch-Greek Ajax fans happened to be in the Arena in this game?The thing is that the flag is quite big and it must be in the Arena in many games as i can imagine.Maybe it's because of the Greek warrior emblem?????????

-- Anonymous, November 17, 2002

Nice article on the F-side songs, Menno.

My favourite singing moment at Ajax was when Sparta visited last year. Do I need to remind anyone that Sparta is the smaller club from Rotterdam, Feijenoord being the larger one?

The Sparta supporters like to think of Sparta as the Rotterdam club for real Rotterdammers and they were singing "Sparta is the club of Rotterdam" with the emphasis on the word "the". After a few moments the Ajax fans realized that the song was really aimed at Feijenoord and they all joined in with the Sparta fans! Before long the whole ArenA was singing "Sparta is THE club of Rotterdam." A hilarious moment of football solidarity.

-- Anonymous, October 16, 2002


Hey Menno, Thanks for your article..."Can you hear the f-side sing" as an American married to a Dutch woman I have struggled to learn Dutch. More importantly, I was wondering if I could get an 8x10 glossy of your byline photo? I'd like to post it on bigstuds.com. ;> Keep up the good work. Ajax-USA provides me with relevant news and good commentary. Thanks.

-- Anonymous, October 15, 2002

Okay, "FC UTRECHT", we'll allow you those two meaningless ejaculations. But from now on, you have to say something interesting or I'll delete it. We can stand a little taunting from the opposition (the Ajax Museum trophy case does the taunting for us, you see), but you have to be somewhat inventive or it's just sooooo boring to read...

-- Anonymous, October 15, 2002

FORZA UTREG OLE OLE OLE JUST KEEP SINGING FOR OUR FC

-- Anonymous, October 15, 2002


FC UTREG 2 DIE 4!!! FORZA UTREG 4 EVER!!! When will ajax learn that atmosphere cant be bought!!! 100% SUPPORTERS ARE MADE IN UTREG!!!

-- Anonymous, October 15, 2002

Gee Menno,

Ben & I were just strolling at a bookstore last week trying to memorize a few 'essential' (ahem..) Dutch words, you know, to get by......

....now all we need to do is learn a few songs and we *might* just fit in....:-D

Entertaining reading. Cheers mate !

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002


For me, November 12th cannot get here soon enough. The crowd noise ,like a wave, rising and falling as Ajax go for a place in CL round two.Thanks, Menno, for heightening my anticipation with your fine article.

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002

Great article Menno - it really gets the heart pumping.

To add to Menno's comment about our lack of Dutch - Myself and Lesley would add support this whole-heartedly as after one game (believe it was PSV at home last season in the league) we were really impressed when the F-Side and subsequently the rest of the crowd joined in for what seemed 10 minutes in a particular chant. We thought wow - although down the crowd are really getting behind the team in a big way. It was only afterwards when we complimented the crowd to Menno, that he put us right in that the chant had nothing what-so-ever to do with the team but to do with questioning the profession of Dick Jol's mother. You live and learn ;-)

What we also miss-out on invariably is the translation of the banners that adorn the front of the F-Side. For my part, the best one of last year was ..... Goodbye Co - You Are The Weakest Link.

As I say great article - makes me pine for the next game.

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002


Actually, we DO have a fan-picture section, though it's pretty well buried... Go to Gallery and click on "Fans".

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2002


Booohooohooo I DO want to go to Dam for a match....It is only 3h30 away from Paris with the Thalys. I'll make the investment.

Anyway Mr Menno Pot is right the dutch supporters are usually considered as very exacting when it comes to the quality of play.

But the more important is that they do make a lotta noise when important.

PS :what about a fan pics section ??? A sorta Ajax red and white desguisement contest....???? The gallery would be fantastic.

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2002


An updated version of BRILLIANT ORANGE - to reflect Euro 2K :-( - is due to come out in April. You can advance order it from Amazon in the US.

-- Anonymous, January 30, 2002

Jim,

Nice review of Brilliant Orange.

I wanted to let you know that it IS NOT out of print. Amazon.com indeed cannot provide it, but Amazon.co.uk can. Amazon.co.uk operates as a completely separate business, even though the "look and feel" of their site is very similar to Amazon.com.

I got my copy last summer from amazon.co.uk shipped to my home in the US in less than two weeks! Right now they are showing that they can ship the current paperback edition within 24 hours, and that there is a new hardcover edition coming out in April of this year.

BTW, not surprisingly for a bookseller in Britain, they have a ton of other soccer titles published in Britain, none of which you could get from amazon.com.

Cheers,

Bruce (a rabid Chicago Fire, Dennis Bergkamp and Ajax fan)

-- Anonymous, January 29, 2002


Brilliant Orange is a great book. I would highly recommend this book to any Holland or Ajax fan.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002

Bravo Jim. Brilliant Oranje is a winner with wonderful and unexpected insights. Good reading for any futbol fans. For those of you "of a certain age" who remember WC 1970 and those of you who rightly wish you did, pick up the Beautiful Team as well.

-- Anonymous, January 26, 2002


Jim has said it all.For me, "Brilliant Orange" was simply the best $13.00 investment I have made. The price included the cost of sending this gem of a book thru the post.Not only did Abe Books have this work, it got it into my hands inside of three weeks. Thanks Jim for making me aware of it.

-- Anonymous, January 26, 2002

Nice reaction to the article by Reusse:

Oh Patrick, not you too. Your insights in your Dec. 9 piece "Reusse: Worst part of losing baseball? Getting soccer" were hardly original: Frank Deford and Jim Rome have already plowed this ground and in similar fashion. I'm weary of fighting the good fight against you insular lot, but nevertheless I must.

Yes, I know the marketing consultants demand writers be "controversial," have to have "attitude."

But let's face it. The proverbial three men and a dog that attend 6th division matches in England or Scotland show more passion than the regularly half-empty mausoleum that is the Metrodome (otherwise known as the Great White Elephant).

Don't fret your pretty little head. If you'd bothered to do any checking (but hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good story, eh?), you would see that Minneapolis isn't at all on the radar screen of potential MLS sites. Don Garber, the commissioner, stated in his summer "State of the League" speech near the All-Star Game (spit) 10 possible locations for expansion teams. Minneapolis was not one of them. In fact, places like Louisville and Winston-Salem (which has tried to get the Miami Fusion for a couple of years now) were listed on the grounds that they have a history of supporting soccer, have plans for stadiums, etc.

Miami's investor-operator Ken Horowitz has pumped some $20 million of HIS OWN money into renovating Lockhart Stadium. Shocking that: a professional sports owner in America not asking for corporate welfare (unlike Bud Selig and his gang of thieves).

Some others of your "red, white and blue" Americans have seen fit to put money into MLS: Lamar Hunt (owner of the Kansas City Chiefs) operates the Kansas City and Columbus francises in MLS (BTW, Columbus also has a stadium paid for by the owner, without corporate welfare). Hunt has an association with soccer going back to the North American league of the 1970s. Robert Kraft (owner of the New England Patriots) operates the New England MLS franchise.

Phil Anschutz, only one of the 20 richest men in America, has continued to put money into MLS because he believes the sport has a future.

Or check the grassroots efforts for expansion teams in Milwaukee (http://www.milwaukeelovessoccer.com) or Trenton, N.J. (http://www.unionfc.com). Both are further along than Minneapolis.

Or further afield, check England's Manchester United club, sports' first team worth $1 billion (while I note that the storied Boston Red Sox recently sold for "only" in the neighborhood of $650 million).

I also dearly appreciate your pulling of two incidents from a sport which has leagues around the world as proof of soccer's unsavory aspects. I can just as easily point to Roberto Alomar spitting at an umpire, Bryan Cox flipping off crowds, Dennis Rodman kicking photographers, NFL fans in Cleveland and New Orleans throwing plastic bottles of beer because they disagreed with an official's call. Under your logic, the NBA, NFL and MLB should be barred from America as "threat(s) to contemporary community standards."

BTW, you overlook (willfully, most likely) the fact that Claudio Rubino Jerez' incident came in a Swedish 5th division game (hardly "big time" soccer) and his team was expelled from the league. Shocking that a league would hold its teams responsible for the on- field behavior of their players.

You may not want to see the Twins replaced by MLS soccer, but get used to it. Baseball is dying. And there's not a damn thing you, Frank Deford or Jim Rome can do about it.

Regards,

Jason Carr Midland, Michigan, USA

-- Anonymous, January 05, 2002


Here's a nice article about football in the US;

http://www.startribune.com/stories/503/883463.html

Reusse: Worst part of losing baseball? Getting soccer Patrick Reusse Star Tribune Published Dec 9 2001 Minnesota has been dealing with the strong possibility of the Twins going out of business for five weeks. There have been sad tales as to the impact this will have on innkeepers, vendors, shut-ins and Little Leaguers, not to mention the people who make their living by producing that yellow stuff they put on top of ballpark nachos.

We also have learned of the plight of the little church near the Metrodome that stands to lose $60,000 in annual parking revenue. I'm not sure how that figures in the long view, since any plan to save the Twins includes leaving the Dome, but who cares?

We're outraged here in Minnesota, so we're adding the members of that little church to baseball Commissioner Bud Selig's list of victims.

Through all this angst, the politicians, the media and the public have failed to pay attention to the greatest potential horror should the Twins disappear in future summers.

We're talking about the possibility of Major League Soccer polluting the Twin Cities sports scene.

Three MLS teams are in jeopardy: Colorado, Miami and Tampa Bay. The possibility of contracting by two teams is being openly discussed. No Congressional hearing has been scheduled to this point.

If two teams fold, that would leave another to relocate. And Minneapolis-St. Paul, the 13th-largest sports market in the country, would be absent a summer game.

There's nothing we will be able to do as flag-waving, mom-and-apple pie Minnesotans to prevent these long-haired lads in short pants from showing up and advertising themselves as a major league attraction.

We already have the Thunder, a scrappy collection of minor leaguers capable of providing the outlet for those dozens of Minnesotans with an interest in soccer that goes beyond being parents.

The Thunder doesn't bother the mainstream sports fans. We don't bother the Thunder. It's perfect.

But get ready if the Twins get gassed. Ten minutes later, the Colorado Rapids will be moving to Blaine. Ten minutes after that, they will be lobbying for a new stadium.

If you don't look at big-league soccer as a threat to contemporary community standards, you haven't been paying attention. Consider:

ĽOn Nov. 25, Jose Antonio Reyes scored for Sevilla in a 4-0 victory over Real Valladolid in Spain's Premier League. As a form of celebration, teammate Francisco Gallardo bit Reyes in the area of his genitals.

"It was something between friends that I thought would have no importance, until this morning when I got up and saw all the commotion in the news," Gallardo said.

ĽOn Nov. 28, Claudio Rubino Jerez was sentenced to two years in prison in Stockholm, Sweden after attacking referee Ariel Scaparro in a game two months earlier. Following an ejection for a severe foul, Rubino Jerez twice attacked Scaparro, breaking the referee's collarbone and right foot.

There it is. We get big-time soccer and this is the behavior you can expect.

Last Thursday, there was considerable tribute paid to Gov. Jesse Ventura and the Minnesota Congressional delegation for their hard- nosed attitude toward Selig during a hearing in Washington, D.C.

Forget it. The performances of Gov. Me and the rest of our gang were overrated. They spent much time rambling about baseball's antitrust exemption, a relic that privately Selig and the owners could care less if they retain or lose.

Not one of our elected officials expressed outrage about what our sports scene will look like if the Twins leave and big-time soccer arrives, with its potential for on-field lewdness and extremely poor sportsmanship (see examples above).

The first reports of the Twins as Montreal's contraction partner surfaced during the World Series. A San Francisco sportswriter covering the event gave a sympathetic pat on the back to a Twin Cities acquaintance and said:

"If this happens, you're going to become the San Jose of middle America. You're going to have it all -- Arena football, the next summer football league, indoor soccer, Major League Soccer, the WUSA ..."

What's that? If the Twins leave, we will end up with both the MLS and the women's soccer league to make claims of major league status?

Contraction must be stopped. A ballpark must be built. Our future as red, white and blue Minnesotans depends on it.

-- Patrick Reusse is at preusse@startribune.com .



-- Anonymous, January 04, 2002


A very nice article on Joey Didulica indeed! Thanks to Roy Hay for sending it and allowing us to publish it on Ajax USA.

There is one factual error in the article, tho. Ajax will not play two games in Portugal "against German Bundesliga teams". Only the opponent for the second game is from Germany (VfL Wolfsburg). In the first game in Faro, Portugal, the local team (Sporting Farense) is the opponent.

Just a detail. Apart from that: nice work!

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2002


And if you all would have read my Match Report about Ajax-2 vs. Huizen (Aug. 10) very closely, you would have known this already... ;-)
(although the article suggests that this was the round of the last sixteen, whereas it was the quarter final)

-- Anonymous, November 15, 2001

You guys were right... Check the article now. I wrote some new paragraphs, which Bastiaan was so kind to put on line straight away. He can do that you know - I can't :-)

Thanks Bastiaan (and Ray, for you remarks!).

-- Anonymous, November 14, 2001


Aha, here we go: it wasn't 1994, but 1995. On March 8 both Ajax teams lost in the quarter final. Both teams lost with 2-1. Ajax-1 against f-word (at home); Ajax-2 against FC Utrecht (in Utrecht). So I was almost right!
(source: the almost very reliable inter net...)

-- Anonymous, November 14, 2001

Raymond, in 1994 both Ajax 1 and 2 reached pretty far indeed. My memory says that on the same night Ajax-2 lost against Utrecht and Ajax-1 against f-word by a late golden goal (back then still called 'sudden death'). As far as I know this was the q-final or the round of the last sixteen. But looking at Menno's history it says that Ajax-1 got beaten that year by f-word in the semi-final. Can't imagine that both Ajax 1and 2 were in the semi-final. Is my memory sooooo bad???
Menno help us out please...

-- Anonymous, November 14, 2001

Just wanted to echo Ray's sentiments. Menno's piece is just the latest top class effort from him. Everything I wanted to know about the Amstel Cup...But was afraid to ask. I am so psyched,and scheduled off on the day, I am checking to see If my bank account could absorb the hit of another trip so close to March.Maybe not so subtle notes to FSW to see if they could broadcast the doubleheader.

-- Anonymous, November 14, 2001

Hi Menno, Once again, another clever and refreshing piece of article from you ! I AlwayS look forward to your editorials and your writings. You put so much time and effort into this webpage and you share your passion with everyone. Very entertaining indeed !

Thanks for the info on the Amstel Cup ! Ray

p.s. Didin't Ajax 1 & 2 both made the q-finals in the Amstel competition in the early nineties? I could've sworn so...maybe I've misunderstood and got that mixed up with the late 80's...

-- Anonymous, November 14, 2001


What an amazing parallel...

I read the following on the truly wonderful new Ajax website, 'De Goeie Ouwe Tijd' (The Good Old Days), which takes us back each month to the same month exactly 25 years ago. Right now, the entire website is about September of 1976...

It was three years after Ajax' third European Cup victory. Johan Cruijff, Johan Neeskens, Arie Haan, Piet Keizer and Sjaak Swart and a few others had left Ajax. The two coahces who had brought Ajax to the top of the world, Rinus Michels and Stefan Kovacs, were also gone. There were new players and a new coach: Tomislav Ivic. 1974 and 1975 had been bad, dark years. But now, in the early months of the 1976- 1977 season, Ajax was winning again! The darkest days seemed over, but there was criticism, because Ajax was not play the glorious attacking football of the 1971-1973 era anymore...

This is what the official Ajax Programme wrote about 'the Ivic style':

"Cool, honest taxation of the available quality taught Ivic, who was praised at Hajduk Split for his insights, that he had to do everything, absolutely everything in a different way. So far, some people have been acting as if Ajax is playing strictly defensive and is only trying to win by reaching its fast forwards with counter- attacks. This is not true. Ivic and his offensively thinking discipels, would prefer to play beautiful football for the fans, good enough for a weekly 'style prize'. But as long as the team is unable to execute the new system perfectly, the priority will be to avoid to concede goals."

As they say... time repeats itself. By the way: Ajax won the Dutch championship in 1976-1977...

-- Anonymous, September 11, 2001


Response to Responses to "From the desk of..."

Jim, the Fearless Leader of Ajax-USA is spot-on in his "From the desk of..." column.

There is an old coaching addage, "Don't try to turn thoroughbreds into plow horses." The reverse is also true -- don't try to turn plow horses into thoroughbreds!

Coach Co simply doesn't have the "thoroughbreds" (i.e. race horses, superstars) on the current Ajax side to play a full-throttled 4-3-3. It would be suicide for him to try to do so. In fact, few teams in Europe can put 11 quality players on the pitch and play an offensive 4-3-3.

There are 2 important aspects of Ajax's way of playing that need to be lived up to -- 1. Attractive, tactical, fast, skilled football. 2. Winning. Championships at home and in Europe.

Item #2 has been missing for the past couple of years at home and even longer in Europe. Let's get the team winning again and get their confidence up. Item #1 above will come in time... as the players improve or as the club adds players (from the youth team or elsewhere in Europe).

Trabelsi was spectacular on the "wing." What pace he has! Very exciting. He runs the touchline into the offensive end like a Brazilian fullback (i.e. Roberto Carlos of Real). Maxwell wasn't bad either.

My point is... there was good attacking football along the touchline, it just came from the backs as opposed to the wings. Ajax spread out and played the entire field from side to side. They didn't just bomb long balls into the middle or send a single player up the field in a breakaway counter attack.

Give Co and the team a chance, they're on the right track. Win the big matches (F*&%noord & P$V) and continue to raise the level of play as the season progresses.

P.S. It's good to see Hans vdM weighing in with his opinions on the Ajax-USA site! Keep it up. (I went to a match at the ArenA with Hans a couple of years back...)

-- Anonymous, August 31, 2001


Response to Responses to "From the desk of..."

Jim, My dear friend from afar....

You have said it all.

1. Did you see how Ajax scored? - Yes, we all did, first goal due to magnificent winger play of Trabelsi where he reached the last line and passed back from there which is incredibly difficult to defend and also one of the cornerstones of the Ajax-style. Second goal of a brilliant move of Rafael an ajax-school talent who has everything in him to become another great player. 2. Ajax has a collection of hard-working but rather ordinary players to surround those extra-talented few. - Exactly that is the problem !! It should be the other way around !! I don't remember the names right now (it is early in the morning) but I remember reading about at least 3-4 players that have left the ajax school to go and play somewhere else !!! This is the root cause of them all they won't stay simply because they have a chance of playing for Ajax, no they DEMAND a place in Ajax-1 !!! Hersi, Hose, etc. The issue I see is that Ajax is now a company not a footballclub. The 1995 winning team was a direct result of the youth-plan. Moving it all over to the ArenA destroyed that too.

I know this sounds a bit distressed but the Ajax I see playing at the moment is not even close to what Ajax should look like and if that is a direct result of the stock market or not I think we should revert back to the 'old model'.

Howg! Hans.

-- Anonymous, August 31, 2001


Response to Responses to "From the desk of..."

Could not agree more with the first installment. The sign of a humble coach (thus a great coach) is to be able to adapt and improvise team tactics according to the pool of players and the game situation that arise. Ajax last season scored a lot of goals, but allowed a large amount of balls on its own net too. How can you imporve that? Easy, load up the back side!! Grim is not van der Sar, and he needs as much help as he can get. Besides, the objective is to win the midfield, and that is exactly the result of the 5-3-2. you cannot shove a system down players throats... You adapt the system to exploit the strengths of your players, while providing a shelter for its weaknesess. So what if we are playing a more German style of soccer? If we get a midfield like the ones Ajax had in the 70's and mid 90's (that was the real strength of those teams, everyone thinks of the men upfront.. but they could not do nothing without the midfiled providing them with the ball) then I can see loading it up, and earning the wins with that strength. right now, the defense is the sore spot, and loading the midfield was only exposing that weakness. So good for Co to accept that truth and adpat to the ability of his players. AJAX champions 2001!!!!!

-- Anonymous, August 30, 2001

Response to Responses to "From the desk of..."

Nice job Jim and keep up the good work. You make some good points as always.

Rich

-- Anonymous, August 30, 2001


Response to Responses to "From the desk of..."

Jim, as proven before, I share your opinion on the current Ajax style of playing. I would even like to add something to your comments:

It's not fair to compare to the 70's style of playing for a few good reasons. 1. The opponents tactics have improved incredibly. Was Ajax used to surprise every oponent with their offensive style of playing, nowadays every coah has an (defensive) answer to these tactics. 2. In the 70's Ajax-breathed youth would stay for many years with Ajax before they would leave the club. So, if anyone wants to comepare the 70's squad with the current squad, it wouldn't be more than fare to take in mind that players like Kluivert, Davids, Overmars, Reiziger, Seedorf, vd Sar a.s.o. would still have been playing for Ajax when they would play for Ajax for as long as they would in the 70's.....

Furthermore I'd like to say that Ajax plays more defending when the opponent is in posession of the ball, because that's where the problem is in the last few years. (Considering the goals conceeded) However, when Ajax takes posession over yhe ball, the left and right wingerbacks become midfielders and even support the offence. (Think of the many times Trabelsi and Maxwell were seen in the frontline against Feyenoord!!) And even Chivu seems to have the same role as he had before as a 'number 4'. He is still playing between midfield and defence when Ajax in posession of the ball.

But, as in many cases, a lot of people like to be negative about Ajax because they couldn't be for so many years. And that Co will return to the 'good-old' 4-3-3 is obvious..... why else would he have 3 right wingers and 2 left wingers in his selection?!?!? I'm certain that, as soon as the defence is back on his feeth, the swinging wingers will return to be seen at our club.

Time will show everyone......

Greetings from Holland,

Roy van Griensven

-- Anonymous, August 30, 2001


Response to Responses to "From the desk of..."

This is quite a brilliant first contribution, I must say, with which I whole-heartedly agree.

Co has already said that it is still his goal to play 4-3-3, but at> this point maybe not in big games. Also, Van der Meyde, Van der Gun *and* Ikedia are injured, so he simply has no right winger at the moment. I hope he'll go for this 5-3-2 system one more time (away to league leaders FC Twente; with Machlas and Zlatan, after Shota's departure) and then try to switch to the 4-3-3 system again - if the team is 'ready' to execute that system equally well.

That would be the perfect planning. Our season's start was extremely tough (Celtic games, Roda, Feyenoord), but with the news system, the result was a positive surprise. Whereas PSV and Feyenoord have already lost a game each, Ajax hasn't. After the Twente game, we'll get a whole string of 'minor' opponents: AZ, Sparta, the Apollon Limassol games, FC Groningen, NEC, RKC and Fortuna. In those games, Co should (and will) try to return to the 4-3-3 system - and if he can get it to work, he'll surely use it in big games again, too.

I also agree with Jim that it is nonsense to state that Ajax plays purely defensive, counter-attack football. People saying that, you have obviously not watched close enough to the Celtic and Feyenoord games. In those games, Ajax had *much* more ball possession than the opponents, they played on the opponent's half for the large part of the game, Trabelsi and Maxwell were - in practice - midfielders and wingers as much as they were defenders and Ajax created a lot of chances. They played combination football over the ground (whereas Feyenoord kept simply pumping high balls towards Van Hooydonk). And, ironically: both goals against Feyenoord were kind of scored from the flanks.

They play in a British, or even German formation ('Ajax plays German football'; that's the ultimate insult...) - yes. But they execute that system the Ajax way: their style is still dominant, and still based on skill more than on physical power (since they simply don't have enough of that to rely on it). I enjoyed watching their play; I thought it was really good.

If building in some extra safety in the defence is the way to turn this team into a solid, self-assured football machine - I have no problems with that at all, because they look good. I do want Co to strive for playing the 4-3-3 system in the end. I'm sure that's exactly what he's doing.

-- Anonymous, August 30, 2001


Response to Responses to "From the desk of..."

The first installment of this new feature is by the ultimate big- mouth, Ajax USA's founder and publisher, Jim McGough. This commentary, titled Cheer Up!, is meant as a well- intentioned kick up the backside of all those grousing critics and fans who find so much fault with the current Ajax squad and especially its coach Co Adriaanse.

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2001

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