Thursday, 12 August 2021

Europa Conference League: Rijeka Tops Hibernian for Playoffs Spot, Osijek Eliminated

August 12, 2021 - In the UEFA Europa Conference League 3rd qualifying round, Rijeka tops Hibernian to move to the playoffs, while Osijek and CSKA draw to knock the Croatian club out of the competition. 

Rijeka beat Hibernian 4:1 in the Conference League's 3rd qualifying round and advanced to the playoffs. The first match between Rijeka and Hibernian in Edinburgh ended 1:1. 

Pavičić crowned Rijeka's better game in the first half with a goal in the 36th minute. Hibernian opened the second half with a goal in the 56th minute to shock the home team. After a Hibernian exclusion forced them to play with a man down from the 66th minute, Rijeka returned thanks to a goal by Abass in the 68th minute, and McGinn pushed Rijeka into the next round with an own goal in the 73rd minute. Bušnja confirmed Rijeka's playoff spot with a goal in the 90th minute. 

Goals: Pavičić 36', Abass 68', McGinn-og 73' Bušnja 90'/ Magennis 56'

In the fourth qualifying round, Rijeka will play against the Greek club PAOK Thessaloniki for a spot in the group stage. PAOK defeated Irish club Bohemian 2:0 on Thursday and thus made up for the goal behind (1:2) from the first match played in Dublin. 

The first playoff game will be played in Thessaloniki on August 19, and the return match in Rujevica is scheduled for August 26.

Osijek had a tougher job on Thursday night at City Garden Stadium and needed to come back from a two-goal deficit in the first match where CSKA won 4:2 in Sofia. 

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Slobodan Kadic

CSKA took the lead in the 33rd minute with a goal by Carey, and Osijek equalized through Škorić in the 45th minute. However, the match ended 1:1, which was not enough for Osijek to continue its run in the Europa Conference League.

CSKA will play in the playoffs against the winner of Viktoria Plzen and Welsh TNS.

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Tuesday, 25 May 2021

NK Osijek Celebrates Second Place in HNL (PHOTOS)

May 25, 2021 - NK Osijek celebrates their historic second-place finish in the Croatian First League (HNL). 

Osijek won in the last round of their historic HNL season and proudly ended their Croatian championship story in 2nd place. 

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Slobodan Kadic

Osijek said goodbye to its memorable club season with a familiar result over the last ten months - a victory. Although the points were not as imperative, given that Osijek already secured the second-place spot in the league before the final match, it was the cherry on top of a brilliant season. Osijek ended the Croatian championship by defeating Istra 1961 2:1 at City Garden.

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Slobodan Kadic

"Both this game and what happened, in the end, is another picture of everything we have achieved this season. Despite all the problems we had, we did not highlight them, only the positive ones. We believed in these guys, in each one individually. Congratulations to everyone on a great season, not only to the players and coaches but to all who work in the Club, as well as those who were here before us and contributed to the formation of such a team," said coach Nenad Bjelica.

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Slobodan Kadic

"The awards we received from the Club for the historic second place, as well as this contact with the fans, further embellished the whole story. I hope that next season we will be able to make this symbiosis supreme, and I believe that such synergy will lead us to new victories."

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Slobodan Kadic

Osijek said goodbye to four of its players who will not be in their ranks next season. Just before the match with Istra 1961, Ivica Kulešević, assistant sports director of Osijek and the club manager, handed out framed jerseys and paintings that will always remind Dmytro Lopa, Gutieri Tomelin, Ivan Santini, and Adam Gyurcso of the time spent at City Garden.

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Slobodan Kadic

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Thursday, 24 September 2020

Slovene Damjan Bohar Joins NK Osijek as Newest Reinforcement

September 24, 2020 -  Osijek is seriously rushing to the top of the ladder. And now, Damjan Bohar, a 28-year-old Slovenia national team player who signed a three-year contract, will also defend their colors. After Mura, Maribor, and Polish Zaglebie Lubin, NK Osijek will be the fourth club in his career.

"The only real offer for me was Osijek, and when I heard from coach Bjelica and when he explained to me what was expected of me and what his plans were, I immediately said that I wanted to come there. I will do my best to get into the rhythm of the team as soon as possible and achieve all these wishes that the coach has. I will certainly give my best every game as I gave in my former clubs to reach goals and, in the end, everyone was happy and satisfied. I like it best when a team attacks; I like when something happens in front of a rival’s goal. I have this mentality that I want to score or assist every time. I hope that it will start here as soon as possible," said Bohar with visible satisfaction, but also with the jersey that reads 39, the number he wore in all the clubs in which he played!

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Slobodan Kadic

Nenad Bjelica, Osijek's coach, expected that Bohar would come even before the match against Basel when Osijek said goodbye to Europe, but that did not happen.

"In his club so far, Bohar has scored a lot of goals and proved himself with numerous assists, turning into the best winger of the Polish Ersteklasa. Since the first day I was in this position, he has been a great wish of mine, primarily because of his quality and opinion that our winger scores too few goals, that they can’t guarantee us 10-15 goals per season, which Bohar has shown he can. He played in the Champions League in Maribor, he has great experience, he is ready, so I believe that he can be of great help to us in the next game," concluded Bjelica.

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Slobodan Kadic

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Friday, 4 September 2020

Osijek Have The Best Coach In The Croatian First League Nenad Bjelica

Friday, 4 September 2020 - Dinamo Zagreb's loss is NK Osijek's gain, as the rising Slavonians make a surprise start to the new season, lead by the best coach in the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica

There has been a taste of optimism in the air of Osijek for a while now. And much of it has been centred around the city's NK Osijek football club. However, expectations have flown through the roof this week as it has all but been officially confirmed that the team will start the impending season under the guidance of the best coach in the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica.

It is the most surprising move within the Croatian first league since Niko Kranjčar left his boyhood club Dinamo for bitter rivals Hajduk Split in 2005. At the start of last season, Bjelica was the coach of Croatian champions, Dinamo Zagreb.

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The best coach in the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica, pictured during his time at FK Austria Wien © Steindy

But, this time, there can be no bitterness directed towards the moving man, no anger assigned to Bjelica for seeking a job in his hometown after his dismissal from Dinamo. Even if you attribute blame to those running the farce that Dinamo Zagreb has become, this latest shame for the club comes at the end of a very long list of grievances. Grievances that Dinamo supporters have proven all too quick to forgive, as soon as their wealthy club again win the league or lift the cup.

In recent years, Osijek has suffered more than any other major Croatian city from population decline. The streets of its westerly lying centre are often deserted in comparison to how the city was 20 years ago. And that's not just because of out-of-town shopping centres. Many young people born here, unable to find work for their considerable talents and skills, can now be found in Germany or Ireland. An accepting but unhappy resignation lies with those who've remained. It shouldn't be like this. Those emerging from the city's excellent university are among the best educated in Croatia. The computer sciences and programmers who graduate from Osijek are second to none.

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Gradski Vrt, on the border of Sjenjak, in Osijek. It is the current home of NK Osijek. It will be used for the B team when the new stadium is finished © NK Osijek

One of the chief mood lifts for the men deserted by old school friends has been the attendance of Gradski Vrt, which currently remains NK Osijek's home ground. Not so long ago, it was a visit that only added misery. Though they are one of only four clubs never to have been relegated from the Croatian first league, NK Osijek was facing financial ruin as recently as 2016. But, then, Hungarian businessman Lőrinc Mészáros and Croatian Ivan Meštrović bought majority shares in the club.

Under the new regime, the squad was improved and a can-do spirit returned to the stands at Gradski Vrt. The club finished 4th in the league in 2017, just after celebrating the 70 year anniversary of playing under the name NK Osijek. It was their highest league finish in nearly 10 years and took them to qualifying matches for the 2017–18 UEFA Europa League. There, they beat Santa Coloma, Luzern and even former European champions PSV before their run was halted by Austria Wien. It hardly mattered. The ambition and optimism had returned for good. You could feel it throughout the city, not least when rumours of a brand new stadium began to filter through the stands.

Securing fourth in the domestic league the next year again took Osijek to the UEFA competition and in April 2018, plans for the impressive new Pampas Stadium were revealed. A state of art UEFA category 4 stadium for 12,000 rain-shielded fans, the new ground will be fully compatible with televised coverage of international competitions. This is an indicator of Osijek's ambition. Not a day goes by when football fans from the city - indeed, from all over Croatia - check on the progress of construction.

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The progress of construction of Osijek's new ground is being watched by football fans across Croatia. it is a fitting home for the best coach in the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica © NK Osijek

That the team should be starting the new season with the best coach in the Croatian first league, Nenad Bjelica, is yet another measure of that ambition. But, unlike the visible rise of the new stands, few saw this one coming. After the mess of his departure from Dinamo Zagreb, it had been anticipated that Bjelica might go to La Liga or Serie A. He's certainly good enough.

A former player for NK Osijek, Bjelica spent four early seasons at his hometown club before moving to Spain to play for Albacete Balompié, Real Betis and Las Palmas. Following a spell of injuries, he returned to Osijek for two seasons and featured for them in the UEFA Cup competition. He played the last eight years of his career as a professional in Germany and Austria, before retiring in 2008. He bowed out after having represented Croatia nine times as part of the national side.

He began his managerial career at the same club from which he retired as a player, Austria's FC Kärnten, but by 2013 had moved to Austria Wien where he helped secure their qualification for the Champions League group stage. He spent time in Italy and Poland before returning to the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica signed for Dinamo Zagreb in 2018.

After a successful first year in charge, most were of the opinion that in the Croatian first league, Nenad Bjelica was the best coach. After guiding the team through a good Europa League campaign, Bjelica's successes resulted in attaining the highest number of qualifying places ever for Croatian domestic teams in European competition. He returned Dinamo Zagreb to the Champions League for the first time in three years before his winning run at the club was halted by their latest debacle.

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How NK Osijek's new Pampas stadium complex will look when complete © NK Osijek

How they could have let him slip through their fingers is eye-raising and yet, at the same time, not surprising. This is Dinamo Zagreb. Their supporters are resigned.

“Honestly, I am so happy for Osijek,” frustrated Dinamo Zagreb supporter David Kutleša told TCN upon hearing of the appointment.

“He accepted Osijek? What a legend!” said another, Martin Žunec. “This next season is going to be sick (great).”

For too long have the tarnished successes of Dinamo Zagreb taken the full limelight in Croatian domestic football. Though eminently predictable, their lifting of consecutive cups has nevertheless brought cheer to supporters of a club riddled with trouble. Such domestic achievements may not immediately follow Bjelica to Slavonia. But, it barely matters right now. NK Osijek will start the new season with the best coach in the Croatian first league, Nenad Bjelica. In his acceptance of this appointment, it is to a building momentum of optimism that Bjelica is contributing. And nowhere is that more needed than Osijek.

The official announcement of the Croatian first league Nenad Bjelica's appointment to NK Osijek is expected on Saturday 5 September 2020

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Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Ivan Mestrovic No Longer President of NK Osijek

June 24, 2020 - A big change as the club fights for a spot in the Champions League playoffs, NK Osijek has relieved Ivan Mestrovic of his duties as club president.

Gol.hr reports that one of the best Croatian football clubs, NK Osijek, confirmed on Tuesday what many have speculated in the last few days. Ivan Mestrovic is no longer the president of the club.

"Football Club Osijek continues on the planned path with the same team. However, in slightly changed roles. President Ivan Mestrovic, at his own request and with the understanding of the President of the Supervisory Board and majority owner Lorinac Meszaros, will not continue to operate in the Club for the next four years as president of NK Osijek. However, as the president of the Association of the Football School of our first league, he will exclusively dedicate himself to the completion of the construction of a new football stadium and camp on Pampas," reads the statement from City Garden, which went on to announce Mestrovic's successor.

"The new club president will be the current vice president Ferenc Sakalj, a longtime friend and associate of both Meszaros and Mestrovic. The rest of the club's management remains unchanged and maximally focused on the best possible sports result in the uncertain fight for the top of the HNL championship.

Therefore, in the end, it can be concluded that the co-owners of the Club laughed at the media speculations about conflict, and was determined to continue to jointly fulfill everything that is set in the club's projects and ambitions," reads the announcement of NK Osijek.

Osijek is currently the third-placed team in the First HNL with only one point less than the second-placed Lokomotiva, and the holy second place that leads to the Champions League next season.

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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

NK Osijek, Dinamo Significantly Reduce Wages for Players and Employees

March 25, 2020 - NK Osijek and Dinamo Zagreb are the first two Croatian clubs to reduce the wages of players and employees during the corona crisis.

Drastic times call for drastic measures, and during the corona era, we’ve seen athletes around the world hit hard by the effects of the global pandemic. 

Croatian sport has been on hold since the beginning of the month, which has been especially tough for Croatian football. While HNS announced that the league must end no later than June 28, we’re still unsure of a potential start date, as Croatia is on lockdown until April 19. 

Clubs are struggling to stay alive, and players and employees are the ones having the suffer. 

Namely, the players of NK Osijek were offered a salary cut due to the coronavirus crisis, which they accepted, reports Glas Slavonije.

Thus, the club will reduce salaries by 50%, and 25% will be paid back when they return to the pitch.

They were the first club in Croatia to make this move, which we believe many more will follow to avoid financial problems.

"We were the first to decide on such measures, but I believe that all other clubs will very quickly do the same thing," said Osijek President Ivan Mestrovic.

Of course, this will not be an easy period for footballers and employees alike, but in the long run, this might be the saving grace.

After Osijek, Dinamo became the second Croatian club to reduce costs by reducing player and employee wages due to the coronavirus crisis, reports Nogomet Plus.

Unlike Osijek, whose employees and players will receive 50% lower pay (25% of which are non-refundable) until football resumes at Maksimir, they have opted for even more drastic measures. Namely, employees and players will receive only a third in the next six months - one third will be paid after the start of the competition, and one third will have to be given up permanently.

In its statement, the Dinamo Management stated:

“From the onset of the crisis caused by the Coronavirus - Covid 19, the management of GNK Dinamo has been in constant session and analysis of the consequences of the global crisis that caused the world economy to stall and completely halt our core business in sport. 

The strategy that we have decided to counteract the consequences of this crisis on society as a whole, and in particular on sport and football as its most prominent part, aims at preserving all jobs in Dinamo. This means that we strive to ensure that none of our players, coaches, physicians, physiotherapists, economists, stadium maintenance workers, and club administration are jobless and secure the conditions to live and function in dignity at this globally critical moment.

In order to succeed in this, all the stakeholders of the club must bear the brunt of this crisis, in proportion to their income and the other benefits of playing for and being employed by Dinamo. Considering the uncertainty of the continuation of the competition, the postponement of EURO 2020, the unknown start date of the new season in Croatia and Europe, the unknown about the timing and extent of the summer deadline and the overall economic crisis that has arisen, primarily to preserve the overall stability and liquidity of our club, the management of GNK DINAMO made the following decisions:

Employees earning more than HRK 7,500.00 (average income of the City of Zagreb) will be paid this amount and the difference up to the full amount of the salary as follows:

- one-third of the difference between the average income and the full amount of salary is paid regularly

- one-third will be paid within six months from the date of the first official game of GNK Dinamo

- one-third of the salary will not be paid permanently

- this measure shall be valid until 30 September 2020 and shall enter into force immediately.

2. Players and coaches will be paid as follows:

- one-third of the benefits will be paid on a regular basis

- one-third of the proceeds will be paid within six months of the date of the first official game of GNK Dinamo

- one-third of the benefits will not be paid permanently

- this measure shall be valid until 30 September 2020 and shall enter into force immediately.

3. The next two team preparations will be held in Croatia without going to the usual foreign destinations

4. This year's edition of the Mladen Ramljak Memorial Tournament is completely canceled

5. We continue to take additional measures to reduce all costs other than those necessary for the functioning of the Club

The decision shall take effect immediately. In these moments, we invite all players, coaches and employees to contribute with their positivity and community to the Club to continue its sports success and maintain its status as a leader in the sports excellence of Croatia and this part of Europe.

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Sunday, 22 September 2019

Dino Skender No Longer Coach of NK Osijek

The defeat to Lokomotiva has ruled the fate of the now-former coach of Osijek, Dino Skender. 

Gol.hr reports that Dino Skender is no longer the coach of NK Osijek! The news was announced by Osijek club president Ivan Meštrović via the club's YouTube channel on Saturday. 

"I, as president, have to make moves that are sometimes popular, sometimes less popular. In my discussion with him, he actually initiated the fact that he would no longer be the coach of the Osijek first team,” said the president of the club. 

"Weird energy started to swirl in and around the club. This year we played 11 games, we outplayed our opponent both statistically and impressively, but unfortunately, the result in the championship does not indicate that,” said Mestrovic.

Osijek has played nine games in the Croatia First League and two in Europe, and has only recorded four wins in those matches. In the second round of the Europa League qualifiers, in the return match, CSKA Sofia went further after a better penalty shootout.

What particularly disturbed Mestrovic is the club's unfortunate scoring effect in the Croatian championship. Namely, Osijek has 13 points after nine rounds (with five games played at home and four away), with only three victories, the last of which was achieved almost a month ago.

Next week, the name of Skender's successor will be known, and in the next seven days, Osijek will have two exams - Tuesday, as part of the first round of the Croatian Cup when they will visit Vuteks Sloga in Vukovar, and next Saturday in the Croatian Championship against Slaven Belupo in Koprivnica.

This news comes after another shock in the Croatian First League on Saturday after Dinamo Zagreb lost to Varazdin - a team that has spent most of their time in the last place and was promoted from the Second League this season. 

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Thursday, 1 August 2019

Europa League Qualifiers: NK Osijek Eliminated After Losing on Penalties to CSKA Sofia

NK Osijek was eliminated in the second round of the Europa League qualifiers after a penalty shootout against CSKA Sofia on Thursday at City Garden stadium. 

NK Osijek and CSKA Sofia met for the return match of the second round of the Europa League qualifiers on Thursday at City Garden stadium. Recall, Sofia won the first leg 1:0 at home, reports HRT on August 1, 2019.

Osijek needed to put up a tough fight to stay alive in the Europa League and did just that on Thursday night in Osijek. In the 23rd minute, Bočkaj hit the wall from a free-kick and had an even better opportunity a minute later when he crossed the ball to Šorša who shot over the goal. 

But Osijek finally got their chance in the 27th minute after Ante Majstorović nailed a header from Žaper's cross from the right. After exactly half an hour of play, the game could have been 2:0. Marić fooled the Sofia player to find Mance, though their stopper cleared Osijek’s attack. 

The game saw no other goals, and after 90 minutes with a 1:1 aggregate from both games, it went into extra time. However, no winner could be decided in the dramatic added minutes, and the winner was then to be decided on penalties. Unfortunately, Osijek failed to overcome the Bulgarian club on penalties, losing 3:4 in the end. Thus, Osijek joins Hajduk and is no longer competing in the Europa League this season.

City Garden Stadium in Osijek welcomed 7,200 spectators for the Europa League clash between Osijek and CSKA Sofia.

This game was also the return of Ljupko Petrović to City Garden. The expert took over CSKA Sofia after the club dismissed Dobromir Mitov at the beginning of the season. Petrović's first encounter with Osijek was his debut for the club, and in the second he beat city rivals Slavia 2:1.

Petrović is the best scorer in Osijek history with 139 goals and has achieved his greatest career success as the Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) coach, winning the European title in 1991.

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Saturday, 30 March 2019

It's Official: Zoran Zekić No Longer Coach of NK Osijek

By the decision of Osijek president Ivan Meštrović, Zoran Zekić is no longer the coach of Croatian first league team NK Osijek, announced the club, and officially confirmed that the resignation of the former strategist, who submitted his mandate after Osijek drew 2: 2 with Gorica, was accepted, reports HRT on March 29, 2019. 

“I did not see the president, but I'll give him my mandate and let him decide further. In three and a half years, the pressure of the club is constant; whatever you do is not good enough. I think that no one else believes in me anymore and it is difficult to bear,” Zekić said immediately after the game, adding that if he accepted his resignation, he would be the most faithful fan of Osijek.

Unofficial reports claim that Osijek’s first team will be taken over by Dino Skender, former coach of the Osijek B team.

Zekić has been the coach of Osijek for the past three and a half years, and during that time, Osijek played in the Europa League qualifiers twice. In the Croatian First League, Osijek has not won for the past five games and hold third place in the rankings, with only three points more than the fifth-placed Hajduk.

Zekić took over the club on September 1, 2015, after the departure of Dražen Besek, and also trained Moldovan club Sheriff in his career. 

Osijek thanked the coach on their official website.

“Zoran, thank you for the two beautiful European summers we had under your guidance.

Zoran, thank you for all the greatest victories we have achieved.

Zoran, thank you for giving all of yourself to the club for the past three and a half years.

Zoran, thank you for your loyalty to the club and the fans.

Zoran, thank you for being a gentleman on the field and beyond.

Zoran, thank you for belonging to the White and Blue Movement, which is the indispensable part.

Zoran, thank you for the many beautiful moments we've been through together.

Dear Zoran, once again, we thank you for everything we have gone through together and wish you much luck and success in your future work and further training career."

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Sunday, 16 December 2018

NK Osijek Fans Clean Snow Off Pitch So Game Could Play (Photos)

NK Osijek fans gathered to clear the pitch of snow at City Garden Stadium to ensure today's match against Inter Zaprešić could play, reports Gol.hr on December 16, 2018. 

NK Osijek thanked their loyal supporters who responded to the call to remove the layer of snow from the pitch at City Garden so that yesterday's delayed match could be played against Inter Zaprešić.

"A joint action to remove the snow cover from the pitch at City Garden has been successfully completed! At 7 am, two hundred fans, club members, young footballers from Osijek, members of the Red Cross Society, association (No) Addiction and other volunteers who readily accepted the invitation from the Osijek Football Club, came together. The field was cleaned for two hours and will be ready to play today's match that is scheduled for 1 pm,” said the official website of the NK Osijek.

“It is known that our club decided to pay a working hourly wage (25 kuna) on this occasion to everyone who participated in this action, and it is worth pointing out that the Kohorta members have waived their compensation for a humanitarian cause. Namely, they decided to instead help Diana Vranješ, who needs hip surgery. Their example was followed by many other fans and sympathizers of Osijek who also gave up their respective pay for the same goal,” the club added. 

“NK Osijek is grateful to everyone who helped us remove the snow and thus enable conditions for the game between Osijek and Inter. This example, once again, shows the affection of the fans to their favorite club because they were not interested in any compensation, but were motivated by their love of Osijek,” the club concluded. 

The Croatian First League will also see the highly anticipated derby between Dinamo and Hajduk this afternoon at Maksimir Stadium.

To read more about Osijek, follow TCN's dedicated page

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