Would You Mind If I Play? - Chapter 11[Updated at: 2021-01-11 03:57:17]
Chapter 11: Upset
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The match resumed; Zhong Xin took possession of the ball and circled around Shu Guang patiently.
This took affected Su Li as he tried to stay on Shui Huajun. The two of them were 177 cm and 185 cm tall respectively, meaning that the former was completely overshadowed in all departments, whether it was height, strength or technique. It was at this time that Huajun showed his intensity as “the best attacking midfielder”, shooting continuously and threatening An Ke’s goalpost.
“Our captain is having a hard time! Why would you let him guard No.10 alone?” Su Fei asked Liang Ke.
The Shu Guang coach explained impassively, “Firstly, our defenders wouldn’t have time to help him; secondly, is Su Li under a total disadvantage? Well, he does lose out considerably in terms of height, strength and technique compared to his mark, but there is one thing about him that can deal with all of that—his will to fight! He won’t lose to anyone when it comes that! Just think about it, would a flower grown in a greenhouse have the strength to survive like weeds?”
But as soon as he said that, Shui Huajun managed to shake Su Li off. Caught out, the defensive midfielder was unable to stay on him. Shui Huajun took a shot—aiming straight down a clear line—and despite An Ke’s best efforts, the ball went in.
The score was 1 : 1, Zhong Xin had equalized the score on the twenty-eighth minute of the first-half!
The goal breathed new life into the Zhong Xin cheerleading team. They now believed that Shu Guang’s goal was just a fluke and that their own team was just beginning to bare their fangs. Shu Guang High would soon be crushed like an ant.
And so, they chanted Shui Huajun’s name sonorously.
On the other end of the pitch, Shu Guang’s back four players were clearly nervous. There was no change in strategy even with Shui Huajun exerting astonishing pressure upon them. It was solely thanks to An Ke’s stopping efforts in front of the goalpost that they were not conceding more goals. Up front, Zhang Jun, Yang Pan, Ren Yu De and the rest of the forwards made fruitless runs, burning up energy pointlessly on every turn.
Su Fei was also positively agitated. She kept darting glances towards Liang Ke to see if he would issue any instructions. But the coach remained motionless, his face impassive as if he was a stony statue.
The referee’s whistle came at long last to signal the end of the first period, with both teams completing the first half on a 1 : 1 score.
The Zhong Xin cheerleading team were singing at top of their lungs at the sight of their team’s excellent performance during the break.
However, in their dressing room, their coach was considerably irked by their performance. He hit one of the racks while his voice thundered. “Conceding a goal against the other team in just nine seconds! What is our national ranking? And what is their national ranking? We’ll become a universal joke when this gets out! And scoring only one goal after completely pinning them down! This is nothing but an embarrassment! Is every single one of you still asleep?!”
With their heads lowered, the Zhong Xin players uttered a reply.
The player, whose name was called looked up at the coach.
“You’re a third year student now. Could you accept losing to Zhongyuan last year? Could you accept never becoming the King of Luoyang?”
On the other hand, things were utterly cheery inside the Shu Guang locker room; it was an entirely different scene from Zhong Xin’s.
“Team, good job!” Liang Ke smiled. “Especially An Ke and Su Li. That combination between Zhang Jun and Yang Pan was also very beautiful. Pour more effort into the second half and you guys will definitely win this. One last thing, are you guys satisfied yet?”
“No!” every player answered aloud.
Before he walked onto the pitch, Shui Huajun thought of what his coach had just said. It was unpleasant but it was something spoken from the coach’s heart.
He was thankful for his guidance, of course. Without him, he would not be the Shui Huajun he was today. Initially, he played basketball instead of soccer. However, he was just average in the former simply because it demanded individuals of taller frames. That was when the coach found him and convinced him to join Zhong Xin’s soccer team, where he found a place that he belonged in. While he did not make it as a newcomer in his first year, he managed to score a brace by himself in the quarter-finals against Zhongyuan during his second year. He almost dragged the kings into the mud—earning a reputation thereafter and the title of “the best attacking midfielder”.
It was his final year this year, and there was no question that he had to keep winning until he met Zhongyuan again. He would crush them as sweet payback for what transpired the year before.
He balled his fists. “I will not lose!”
The second half began with the two teams switching their field of play. For Zhong Xin, their coach’s scolding seemed to bear fruit and the team unleashed wave after wave of attacks, each rising above the one before.
With the intention to win in his mind, Shui Huajun initiated several of those efforts on Shu Guang. His incessant hard work was finally rewarded in the fifty-seventh minute; a shot that deflected off the body of Li Xiaopeng went in. Sighing, An Ke could only watch.
With that, the cheers for Zhong Xin from their supporters became even louder. Even their coach was finally able to take a seat; he had been howling at his team from the technical area for the entire 57 minutes since they conceded that first goal to Shu Guang.
It was then that Liang Ke stood up and went to the side of the pitch. “Yang Pan!” he called, making an “okay” hand sign.
Picking up his cue, Yang Pan nodded.
The score was now 2 : 1. Zhong Xin was in the lead and the match resumed.
Ren Yu De was on the ball and with his dazzling control, he scattered the Zhong Xin defenders who were onto him. Still, they were able to maintain their line and Ren Yu De did not care to attempt a headlong charge into their ranks.
In that moment, Yang Pan went across the right flank into the center of the pitch and asked for the ball from his teammate. Yu De obliged, and with the side of his foot, he lobbed the ball. It soared towards the edge of the box.
Watching the situation unfold, Yang sped hurriedly in that direction with his markers in tow. A seam formed amid the Zhong Xin defense as they moved.
With his right leg raised, Yang Pan fired a volley! It blew past the Zhong Xin defense, and the goalkeeper—seeing the ball heading his way like a missile—stood rooted to the spot. His natural instincts kicked in and it left him petrified. In the absence of any resistance, the ball simply thumped a straight line into the back of the net!
The pitch heated up once more! Plus, the goal came as such a huge relief for Yang Pan and his team after getting held back for almost an hour!
And what a domineering goal! It left everyone from Zhong Xin stunned, be it their cheerleading team, their coach or their players; the knock from Yang Pan’s shot was loud enough to be heard amid the rowdy stadium.
An Ke shook his head and smirked. “What a beast!”
It was also then that the will and resolve of the Zhong Xin team began to crumble; Yang Pan’s long-range efforts always did have such an effect. With 20 minutes left, all kinds of problems began to hit the visiting team. For instance, whenever their defenders saw Yang Pan getting to the ball, they would run to the flanks, as if dodging him.
If the Zhong Xin team had it bad, things were going even worse for Shui Huajun. That No. 8, his marker whom he had played like a fiddle earlier, was becoming more of a problem with every passing minute. His own feet were getting heavier and his breathing more turbulent. Trying to shake off that No. 8 player seemed to take double the effort at this point. Whenever he did shake him off and looked set to leave him behind, Su Li would dart in front of Huajun once more—the Shu Guang captain’s heavy breaths screeching in his mind.
Hmph, 2 : 2! Still a tie! Why? Why is this No. 8 so irritating? Who is he? How could I lose to a nameless pawn?!
The referee’s whistle broke his scattered thoughts. He raised his head to see the referee reach into his chest pocket. It was a yellow card! The Zhong Xin ace was being cautioned.
Nearby, Su Li was on the ground with his hands covering his face. “What’s this?” Shui Huajun asked himself.
Wang Bo rushed towards him and roared, “Bastard! Hitting out when you’re losing out! If you want a fight I can go at it alone with you!”
Xie Yu quickly held his teammate back by the waist. “Ah Gui! Ah Gui! Cool down! We’re still in a match!”
That was when Su Li picked himself up. Holding his face with his left hand, he shut down Wang Bo. “What’s with all the noise? Keep playing!”
Seeing that the injured player was able to stand up by himself and talk calmly, the referee assumed that Su Li was fine. Still, as a precaution, he asked, “Are you alright?”
Su Li waved the referee off. “I’m fine.”
Zhong Xin’s coach had watched as Shui Huajun knocked the opposing No. 8 down with his arm. He was worried, but not about the yellow card—Shui himself was beginning to act in a weird manner.
Shui had never behaved like this before even when he was facing Zhongyuan the previous year. On that occasion, their No. 8 sparkled with excitement in his eyes, and his face was filled with elation. Today, it was a completely different story—his eyes looked confused and his face was flustered. He was not the Shui Huajun the coach knew and the coach could not make a substitution for him either—his place in the team was irreplaceable. Now, his only hope was that the yellow card could bring his old self back.
On the ball again, Shui Huajun found Su Li closing in, his body pasted against his own as the No. 8 vied for the ball. To the forward, it felt like he was being surrounded by untold numbers of Su Li, a flawless flanking that would not let loose a single drip of water. Suddenly however, there was a gap in the encirclement and he saw a teammate. So, he quickly sent the ball over.
The crowd cried in surprise—in reality, Shui had passed the ball to Yang Pan! The first-year sped up across the field with the ball—his 10.52-sec/100-m dash was simply too quick! The Zhong Xin players were left behind completely, watching as he dashed behind them, unopposed.
The Zhong Xin formation began to retreat, and it was as if with every step that Yang Pan took forward, they took one step back. Boos resounded from the stands at that sight; the players were simply running away!
When he was 30 m out, Yang Pan suddenly fired the ball; the Zhong Xin keeper dived towards the ball but could not make contact.
“Go in!” An Ke howled from the back.
The ball struck the post.
“Arghhhhh!” An Ke dropped into a squat, holding his head in frustration. But the ball was not out of bounds and the attack was not finished—it went on a rebound after hitting the woodwork. Dashing out from a throng of players, Zhang Jan leaped forward for a diving header!
It went in!
3 : 2! Shu Guang led again after a beautiful counter!
There was now less than 10 minutes left. If Zhong Xin equalized the score again, they would enter into extra time. But, could they score?
As time whiled away, the fourth official raised his board, signaling that there would be three minutes of added time. Every Shu Guang supporter stood up from their seats as the game went into injury time, keenly anticipating a historical moment.
However, things were not looking good. Shui Huajun seemingly sobered up and resumed his fearsome shots, keeping the Shu Guang defense busy. “Keep him out! All of you, keep him out!” An Ke yelled in encouragement of his teammates.
Two minutes and fifty seconds went by. In one tenacious move, Shui Huajun freed himself from Su Li’s marking and prepared to shoot at the edge of the box!
However, a shadow rushed at him from the side, skidding in and catching both him and the ball. It was Zhang Jun!
The referee blared his whistle and flashed a yellow card at Zhang Jun, but It was largely ignored by the striker. Instead, he called out to his teammates, “Hold on! We will win this!”
Hearing that, Shui Huajun mused, “Are you joking? That’s my line!”
Pointing to the spot where Shui was fouled, the referee gestured for a free-kick at a dangerous position. Everyone was understandably jittery—if the free-kick converted, the game would go into extra time, but it would become a huge upset for Zhong Xin if it did not.
Apprehensively, An Ke shouted instructions to the wall his teammates were forming, and every single Shu Guang player had returned to their own box for defense. Meanwhile, Zhong Xin poured their men forward—even their goalkeeper was up front.
Shui Huajun stood in front of the ball. He stared at the wall and the goal, then at the flag with “Zhong Xin for the win” written all over it. “I will win this!” He took a deep breath, ran up and struck the ball!
It curled intensely over the wall towards the upper left corner!
“I will win this!”
“Are-you-kidding?” A hand swept out and with a popping sound, the ball was knocked away. It was An Ke! The ball—with just a slight change of trajectory—hit the bar before going out.
*Beep! Beep! Beep!*
The referee sounded the final whistle.
“Yeahhhh!” An Ke knelt on the ground, screaming long and hard at the sky.
Every Shu Guang player on the bench rushed into pitch at once.
The final score was 3 : 2! The game was over! Shu Guang High had beaten Zhong Xin Technical, advancing into the next round for the first time ever! There was crazy celebration filled with tears and laughter… as well as certain “age-restricted” scenes.
“We won! We won! We actually won!” Xie Yu was so happy that he became dazed and began to babble.
“What do you mean, ‘actually’?” An Ke retorted as he gave his head a good patting.
The jubilant mood infected every single Shu Guang person and it took them a long time to even notice that Zhong Xin had already left in their huge buses.
As dogmatic followers of the “winner takes all” rule, the journalists, who did not even so much as peek at Shu Guang’s stats before the game were suddenly rushing towards them. They were like ravenous canines being thrown a big juicy bone.
“Yang Pan, I’m from The XX Evening Edition , I want to ask…”
“Su Li, I’m from XX Focus , can I know…”
“Liang Ke, I’m from The XX Early Edition , …”
“An Ke, I’m from XX Weekly , I would like to put forward a question…”
There was also quite the crowd surrounding Zhang Jun. With his slim figure, Chen Huafeng slipped to the very front of the mob. “Zhang Jun, I’m Chen Huafeng from High School Soccer .”
Zhang Jun smiled. “Hehe. Yeah, I know you!”
At those words, every journalist around them immediately fixed their eyes on the young reporter.
“I would like to know, what is your team’s objective?” Chen Huafeng asked—a question unlike the typically meaningless ones put forward by other reporters, such as “How do you feel after winning?” or “Are you happy, defeating a strong team?”
“To keep winning.”
“Just that?” Another interviewer interrupted.
“Yup!” Zhang Jun nodded.
“Any other thoughts?” Huafeng added.
“That’s all for now.”
“An Ke, you could meet Zhongyuan High Shool if you keep winning. Do you have any strategies ready for that encounter?”
An Ke stared at the journalists who asked the question. “Zhongyuan High School?”
“Correct.” The other nodded.
“What kind of school is that?”
As things carried on with the press, Su Fei finally quieted down. She watched the pitch quietly where the squad was getting shot with loads of questions while some Shu Guang students kept their celebrations going beside her.
The match, which had just ended felt like a dream; whenever she closed her eyes, she could see those emotional scenes again. When Zhang Jun scored, she threw away the notebook in her hand—she had never been so happy or lost control in such a fashion! Her heart thumped alongside the other players, her breathing leveled with theirs while her eyes chased after their shadows. There was indeed magic in soccer that needed to be experienced to be believed.
She set her gaze at the sky in the distance; the sunset was infinitely beautiful!