Would You Mind If I Play? - Chapter 56 - The Crow

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 03:57:31]
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Chapter 56: The Crow

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

7: 15 am, Saturday morning.

Yang Pan leaped out of bed and dressed up before going for his daily morning jog. It was a routine that he carried out resolutely no matter rain, sleet or snow. He did rest on Sundays though―it was when he would recover after each match.

However, the sky outside was dark and cloudy; it looked set to be a rainy day.

Despite that, Yang Pan did not think much of it. He glanced at the sky once and continued withhis homework.

After a few warm-ups, he started his jog.

*Caw — Caw — Caw —*

He had not moved two steps when an ugly cry rang from above. He looked up to see a crow flying past.

A crow?

Yang Pan rubbed his eyes, thinking that he was not fully awake; and the bird was not there anymore.

Are crows not supposed to appear only at spooky places such as graveyards and wastelands? Why would there be such an unlucky omen in a modest ,modern residential area?

He kept running.

That familiar yet horrible screech rang again after a few more paces.

He stopped and promptly looked up again. This time, he saw it clearly, it was indeed a crow!

“Why are you up so early? Isn’t there a game this afternoon?” Zhang Jun’s father settled down at the dining table when he found his son sitting opposite him.

Zhang Jun took a sip from the cup of milk he poured and dabbed his lips. “Can’t sleep. What use is there in staying in bed?”

He left the kitchen at that.

Isn’t that what I usually say? Mr. Zhang thought blankly as he stared at his son’s back.

Walking out to the balcony, Zhang Jun took a deep breath.

The air was really better in the mornings! Still, the sky was a bit gloomy and it looked like therewould be rain. Nonetheless, he was not concerned; whether it rained or not, soccer could not be stopped.

Despite that, it was fine to enjoy the rare morning view. Usually, he would rush to finish his breakfast and dash off to school―there was usually no time for him to enjoy any view at all.

A few elderly people were practicing martial arts downstairs. It was indeed a good time to train; the air was fresh; the birds were singing…

*Caw — Caw — Caw —*

The birds are singing?

Zhang Jun lifted his head, and there was a crow…

There was no way he could keep running.

Yang Pan had seen no less than 10 crows along his run. When the eleventh flew over him, YangPan did not even look up.

“Damn! This is so bloody infuriating!” He spat furiously on the path before turning back.

“This kid! Why are you only washing your eyes?” his mother chided. Zhang Jun had dashed into the bathroom from the balcony, grabbing a towel to rub his eyes―repeatedly and violently.

His mother who just entered was naturally shocked.

*Caw — Caw — Caw —*

A crow flew overhead and cawed.

It was already pouring when noon arrived. There were brief stops in between where the rain alternated between drizzles and downpours. Nevertheless, the ground was not soaked―the match stayed on schedule since the tournament committee did not give any notice that stated otherwise.

Their bus was speeding on the way to Yingcai.

Su Fei stared blankly at the darkened sky and the irregular rain outside the window; even the glass was drenched. She was worried; the rain looked like it could get worse.

They were playing as the away team in such an environment against a team of such caliber. Kaka was right, that huge goalkeeper from Yingcai was not an average player―he had stoppedevery attempt on his team’s goal during his last three games. Yang Pan’s powerful drive may just give him some trouble, but Zhang Jun…

Flustered, she shook her head when she found herself doubting Zhang Jun. She pressured herself to think: Zhang Jun can do it! Zhang Jun can do it! Zhang Jun can do it…

“Su Fei.”

Startled, she turned to find Liang Ke.

“You look like you have something on your mind. What is it?” the coach asked.

She turned to look outside. “The sky…”

“I see. You’re worried about the weather.” Liang Ke smiled. “There’s no need to worry. Soccer isa sport that can’t be stopped by rain, sleet or snow. The rain will have certain effects, but the key lies in our 11 players. There’s nothing that can stop them if they desire victory.”

The shower stopped just as the players began their warm-ups.

Su Fei looked up. It was a noticeably brighter sky, maybe it really had stopped?

During their warm-ups, both teams on the field did not say a word to each other. Somewhat high in the midst of its dream run, Yingcai did not even see Shu Guang as a threat. The other team, soured by its dealings with the Ant was not in the mood for good tidings either.

For the coaches, it was an entirely different story. They had a practice game before and there was a sensation of destiny at work. It manifested in a way that they would meet again in the upcoming match.

“Hehe! Please go easy on us!” they exchanged pleasantries.

It was truly a “pleasantry” for Liang Ke. The possibility of Shu Guang losing never crossed his mind―they had been in tip-top form lately. Yingcai may be the dark horse of the year, but its only strength lay in just 2 of its players: Sima Hongxin and Ma Ni; soccer on the other hand, was an 11-man game.

It was a “pleasantry” for the other coach too. Since Ma Ni joined the team, he became coach only in name; although many disliked the striker’s attitude, he was pragmatic when it came to soccer. After all, it was not sheer luck that they gained complete victory over their last three games.

Whenever Zhang Jun caught a glimpse of Ma Ni’s cocky face, he could not wait to run up to him and wring his neck.

But, he knew that the best place to seek his revenge was on the field. The best way to do that was to score and give them a slap on the face in victory. In fact, he had been waiting for this day with his teeth bared. Even a heavy downpour would not put out the fire in him.

Perhaps under the influence of their team, the Yingcai students did not have a good impression of Shu Guang either. Jeers, boos and shouts of “Go home!” never ceased since Shu Guang stepped onto the pitch for their pre-game warm-up.

Yang Pan, captain of the Shu Guang team reacted by slamming a powerful shot at the wall where most of the Yingcai students sat.

The loud bang stunned them for a few moments before the jeers and boos returned with a vengeance. Not one of them remained seated as they expressed their outrage at Yang Pan’s obvious provocation.

Chen Huafeng smiled bitterly, shaking his head. “Ah! Things are already heating up before the game! What is going to happen when it kicks off?”

The visitor’s locker room.

“Our opponent’s spearhead is the striker, No.10, Ma Ni. He has already scored 10 goals since this competition began and he’s the scorer of every single goal for his team. It’s a rare feat, but it shows how valuable he is to Yingcai. Wang Ning, Li Hao, you two will work together to stop him. Defense should stay on high alert too. It’s better to foul him than let him get inside the box.”

“Watch out especially for his ’90 Degrees’ move that all the papers are talking about. According to statistics, he used this move to dribble past his markers before scoring 6 out of his 10 goals. It was also twice successful against Zhongyuan’s Li Yongle in their practice match. That is why I demand that the back line puts in five times the effort. Keep it tight!

Liang Ke nodded as his defenders loudly responded as one.

“Attackers, note that Sima Hongxin is an excellent keeper. He has the best goalkeeping record in Luoyang right now. I’ll leave it to the four of you to decide how you’ll score past him, hehe!” The coach smiled slyly before turning serious again. “Put up the performance you showed in the last game and let everyone witness the greatest offensive lineup in Luoyang!”

There was not much else that needed to be said. Every player looked like they were out for blood, and the raging fire was obvious in their eyes. He translated it as a grand desire to win the match and step into Xigong Stadium, where they would gain a whole new world.

The home team’s locker room.

Ma Ni took over the reins and scribbled on the blackboard, while the real coach merely stood in a corner like an observer.

“Shu Guang is only strong in appearance! Their attacking group is formidable, but their defense is their vital weakness! Their coach has poured his heart out, trying to mend this aspect. However, the time he’s had isn’t enough, so his results are limited. No. 3, Lin Xiaofang and No. 5, Chen Bo have limited experience. It looks like they’ve improved and stabilized in the last few games, but that’s just because they haven’t met any strong opponents.

“Today, I’ll kick them into shape! Stick to the usual strategy. When I get the ball, you run according to the planned routes—grab the attention of their defense and give me space.”

Admittedly, Liang Ke would have nodded in agreement too if he had heard Ma Ni’s analysis.

“There isn’t much to worry about their attack. The forwards tend to do as they like and they’re only scary if the team is focused. But, once they scatter, they won’t be a danger. As long as I deal with the defense within the first 30 minutes, their offense will not even matter.”

It was to observe how egotistical Ma Ni was by his use of “I” instead of “we”. He did not even put his own team’s capabilities into consideration. In his eyes, the other players were just good for crowding the other team when defending, and grabbing the attention of the other team’s defense. Essentially, they were just objects to be thrown at the opposition to stop its offense.

Both teams stood on the field, waiting for the match to start.

Su Fei frowned at the jeers from the Yingcai supporters. The only other occasion they received this sort of welcome was at Yang Guang. She looked up at the dreary skies again; her worries quickly began to grow as if a gigantic rock was pressing down on her heart.

This time however, she was not worried if Zhang Jun could score three goals—she was much more concerned about Shu Guang’s ability to win the match.

A clear whistle sounded amid her worries.

The quarter-final match between Yingcai High and Shu Guang High in the Luoyang regional qualifiers for the National High School Soccer Championship kicked off.