Would You Mind If I Play? - Chapter 74 - The Late Starter[Updated at: 2021-01-11 03:57:37]
Chapter 74: The Late Starter
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Under surprised gasps, the ball darted between Xia Bo and Zhang Jun. Both of them did have a hold on it. Xia Bo then slipped outside the box, while Zhang Jun jumped to the left and rounded to the right in pursuit of the rolling ball.
He got to it at a tight angle and turned to shoot!
It flew over Cao Po’s foot before deflecting off the post and flying into the net!
The loudspeakers exploded after a second of stunned silence. “It’s in! The ball went in!”
Li Yongle immediately rose from his seat and raised his hands triumphantly in front of the middle-aged man beside him.
Liu Qi waved a huge flag energetically; the Shu Guang cheerleading team heated up!
Ren Yu De, Wang Ning as well as a bunch of teammates whooped and ran to join Zhang Jun in celebration by the corner flag.
Kaka remained where he was. “Pele?” He sighed. Zhang Jun’s goal had made him recall memories of Brazil’s golden days. In the 1970 World Cup game between Brazil and Uruguay, Pele had used a similar move albeit missing his target towards the end. The World Cup legend was so disappointed that he pouted and rolled on the ground right after.
However, Zhang Jun made his mark! Kaka’s vision became hazy because Zhang Jun’s back seemed to be overlapping with Pele’s. And he found himself being unable to differentiate the two for a while.
That was when Zhang Jun ran towards him, snapping Kaka out of his trance with a hug.
“Hehe! Great pass! I really didn’t know how to get past the keeper, so I simply feinted. But he fell for it!”
It appeared that the captain was unaware that he had imitated the Samba legend’s move perfectly—save for the outcome, naturally.
They had been teammates for some time now, but Kaka finally realized how formidable the ever-smiling boy truly was.
Awed gasps sounded from the stands as the silver screen replayed the goal.
So, soccer could be played like that. Without a touch on the ball and just relying on feet movements, Xia Bo was shaken off. On top of that, the ball was thumped in from a miniscule angle. It was as if the gods wrote the script.
Liu Wei stared at the display and groaned inside. There was no complaining against that; Zhang Jun had beaten the offside trap designed exclusively for him. He virtually did it all by himself before scoring such an exquisite goal.
Li Yongle sat and turned to Zhang Lintao.
Knowing what he was going to ask, the Zhongyuan keeper shook his head. “I would have been fooled just the same. Although I would foul him by pulling him down.”
“Hey, hey! That’s going to be a red card!” Zhang Yang called out.
Closing his eyes to consider, Zhang Lintao continued, “I would do that in such a moment. That kind of play would make any keeper lose their cool. ‘I can’t let him score. I’ll do whatever it takes!’ That would be my train of thought in such a scenario.”
The referee whistled for the restart even though the crowd had yet to calm down from Zhang Jun’s sensational goal.
Still, the most the goal had done for Shu Guang was level the scores; it did not deal a huge blow on Dingding’s morale. That was clear on the restart—they attacked, intending to take the lead again.
This time however, they had to be prudent.
At this point, they had to heed Zhang Jun on the counter along with Ren Yu De’s penetrating dribbles. Even if the latter was running on fumes, he was still an unnerving sight for the Dingding defense. As such, their defense was unable to support their forwards going upfield, significantly weakening their offense.
Still, Shu Guang’s attack was not very threatening as well since both Zhang Jun and Ren Yu De were now completely under “intensive care” by the other team.
The match entered a period of a stalemate for another five minutes.
Ren Yu De was almost at his limit.
He was left gasping for air even when he was essentially standing still, completely unable to participate in the team’s attack. It was Liang Ke’s cue to sub him off; there was still a match next week.
“Yuan Shuai, start warming-up,” he called out.
Yuan Shuai stood up and prepared to take his jacket off when a voiced stopped him.
Fan Cunjie dribbled the ball away from Wang Ning and passed it just ahead of the menacing Li Hao.
The ball reached Bin Fei’s feet and the striker stopped with his back facing Shu Guang’s goal. Li Jieguang was pressuring him too much; he could not turn and he was forced to return the ball to Fan Cunjie, who was coming up.
Dingding’s captain raised his foot and thumped it from outside the box.
Not risking it, An Ke dived towards it. But it went off the bar, not before causing a few hearts to skip a beat.
The referee whistled to signal a substitution.
Everyone looked at the fourth official who stood by the technical area. He first raised a board with the number “9”, and then another with the number “7”.
A commotion formed from the stands near the technical area. The spectators there had seen the player, who was wearing a white jersey and standing beside the fourth official.
It was Shu Guang’s captain—the one who clocked in at 10.52 seconds in 100-m dashes and fired 180 km/h shots—Yang Pan!
The commentator excitedly announced, “Shu Guang substitution: No.9, Ren Yu De is off and No.7, Yang Pan is on!”
At his words, the Shu Guang cheerleaders blew up in a thunderous applause, drowning out the jeers from their Dingding counterparts.
Liu Wei tensed a little. Zhang Jun alone was troublesome enough, and now there was Yang Pan; the tiger that was Shu Guang was finally baring its fangs and claws.
In his corner, Chen Huafeng still found it hard to wrap his head around why Yang Pan was only subbed in at this point of the game. Nonetheless, he breathed a sigh of relief. Switching the weary Ren Yu De for the sprightly Yang Pan, Shu Guang’s firepower would be increased.
“Yang Pan’s finally up!” Zhang Yang chirped excitedly. “Been looking forward to this!”
“Aren’t you just here to see him shoot both keeper and ball into the net?” Li Yongle grunted.
Zhang Lintao ignored his friends’ banter. He straightened himself in his seat, glaring at the No.7 player who was preparing to enter the pitch.
“Yang Pan…” he murmured quietly.
According to Liang Ke’s instructions, Yang Pan would be taking over Ren Yu De’s position as striker. Additionally, he would be switching flanks with Zhang Jun—he would play on the right while Zhang Jun would move to the left.
That being said, Ren Yu De was a little too slow in getting off the pitch. Kaka quickly went over to help him.
“Thanks,” Yang Pan took over and whispered in his teammate’s ear.
Wearily, Ren Yu De raised his head and smiled. “The rest is up to you…”
Yang Pan nodded. He turned and handed him to Liang Ke, before dashing into the pitch.
“It’s great to have you back!” Kaka did not add much else and gave him a high-five.
Yang Pan smiled at Zhang Jun, but the temporary captain could see that it was forced. He walked over, took off his captain armband and gave it to him.
“This…” Yang Pan was befuddled.
“You’re captain now, and Liang Ke didn’t mention a change.”
“Wear it and bag a goal. For Granny.”
Yang Pan shuddered, but accepted the fiery-red armband. It was the first time he felt it burn in his hand.
Zhang Jun patted his friend on the shoulder and went off without another word.
The referee sounded his whistle that told Shu Guang to take their goal kick and restart the game.
Yang Pan’s appearance quickly showed its effect.
An Ke struck the ball far up to the right. Yang Pan stopped it with his chest and passed it behind to Wang Ning while he turned and ran ahead.
Wang Ning did not dawdle—Yang Pan’s speed would force him offside if he did. He quickly sent a long ball to the front and the ball dropped behind Dingding’s defense.
Yang Pan sped up.
To see Yang Pan’s speed and acceleration was a treat for the spectators; his explosiveness could leave any opponent a pace behind as soon as he started running.
Zhang Jun on the other hand, was the type to gradually speed up; he would be five meters behind in the beginning, but 10 paces later, he would be five meters in front. If he was allowed to sprint freely for 30 m without any interruption during the start, he would be unstoppable.
Dingding’s left back Ya Dong could confirm this.
He chased after Wang Ning’s pass as soon as he saw it, and Yang Pan was eight to nine meters behind him.
Soon, everyone saw that the two were pulling together and they were neck-and-neck on their way to the box. The defender tried to pull him back, but Yang Pan squeezed away.
The ball dropped. Yang pan stopped it with his foot and dashed ahead, leaving Ya Dong far back in his wake.
He quickly crossed!
The ball was at hip height, thus rendering Yao Wang’s aerial guard meaningless. Zhang Jun was an expert in handling fast balls. He shoved and got himself in front of Yao Wang, screening him and firing a volley on the turn!
Xia Bo angled himself and punched the ball out with both fists. Kaka tried to reach the rebound, but it was hooked away by the immovable Cao Po. Su Rui then stole it in front of Wang Ning to clear it away.
Ya Dong wiped a pinch of sweat off as he glanced at Fan Cunjie and shook his head.
“I can’t, he’s too fast! I’m… completely defenseless against him!”
“Zhang Jun and Yang Pan. These Shu Guang forwards may be the fastest in the country…” Chen Huafeng mumbled.
“Dingding substitution: No.6, Ya Dong is off and No.13, Dong Yiluo is in.”
“Switching midfielders… What does Liu Wei intend to do?” The reporter was puzzled.
Once he was on the field, Dong Yiluo gestured with his hand. Dingding’s No.7, Lu Hui, their left midfielder tracked back and occupied the left back position, while Yiluo took his place!
Liang Ke stared at Liu Wei, who stood pitch-side. Lu Hui had a record of 11.03 seconds on 100-m dashes; he was Dingding’s fastest player.
“Stopping speed with speed?”
Yang Pan was not aware of Lu Hui’s ability, or that his 100-m dashes were comparable to his own. Every opponent was the same to him at the moment. whoever it was, he would leave them behind!
Shu Guang had a throw-in. Chen Bo hurled the ball to Wang Ning, who cautiously held on to it, shielding it away from Dong Yiluo.
Yang Pan came up, and Wang Ning quickly passed it to him. The captain turned and started to move!
Not far away, Lu Hui sped up.
“Both are level on the get-go!”
After just two paces, Yang Pan knew that his adversary was not your run-of-the-mill player. He could tie him in terms of speed.
When he accelerated, so did Lu Hui—staying perpetually within sight.
“Lu Hui is really keeping up with Yang Pan! He’s really something!”
Yang Pan noticed that he was not shaking him off yet too.
“Heh! Kid…” In the middle of his sprint, he stopped out of the blue and hooked the ball backwards.
“Do you think soccer’s all about speed?”
Lu Hui could not stop himself in time and ran several paces ahead. In the meantime, Yang Pan entered the box.
“Be careful of his shot!” Yao Wang yelled to remind his teammates as he sprinted to curb Yang Pan’s angle.
With a whirl of Yang Pan’s right foot, Yao Wang jumped in a move of conditional reflex. But it was a feint; Yang Pan did not shoot, passing it to the right for Kaka to take it.
Taking the ball, Kaka imitated his captain and feinted an effort with his right foot as well. Cao Po, who had been marking him slid in to attempt a block. With a flick, Kaka slipped away from Cao Po’s tackle and immediately unleashed a shot!
The ball curved towards the far corner! Xia Bo cried out and dived sideways, palming it off track.
Zhang Jun wanted to fire in the rebound, but Su Rui reacted quickly by getting to it first and clearing if far off.
Fan Cunjie ran to where the ball landed. He turned it wonderfully behind him and carried it forward.
Li Hao came up to him with his burly body, but the Dingding captain suddenly paused in his run; losing his foothold, Li Hao fell.
Wang Ning then reached out. Fan Cunjie looked for the right timing and played a turn-and-pull, running past him too.
“A solo dribble past two defenders! Fan Cunjie is bringing the ball into the Shu Guang box!”