Chapter 94: Not A Multiple Choice Question
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Su Fei and the other substitutes handed out bottles of water to the team members who had run around with all their strength on the pitch for eighty minutes. Zhang Jun received special treatment and was given two bottles of water. He accepted it even though he could not finish it.
Liang Ke started the final discussion in the circle formed by the players.
“An Ke. How is your injury?”
An Ke shook his head. Right now, his vision has returned to normal. It was only a question if it would become problematic again during the match. However, he still replied firmly, “No problem!”
Su Fei handed him a wet towel. “Wipe your face.”
An Ke felt flattered and took the towel. In his rush, he almost knocked down the bottle of water. He had always thought that he was like air to Su Fei and never expected this. He quickly put the wet towel on his face, covering it entirely.
However, what he failed to notice was Su Fei giving a wet towel to every other team member on the pitch.
“Overtime will be a test of our physicality. So, the formation should go back to 4-5-1. Assigning people to the middle of the pitch can slow down our opponent’s quick counterattacks, giving us more power and time. I know that you reverted to 4-3-3 in the last minutes but there are too few midfielders in this formation. Although there is high attacking power, it is only applicable for a moment. We should keep calm and look for opportunities patiently. The outcome could be decided in a single moment! Remember, we must be more patient than our opponents!”
The doctor from the organizing committee removed Li Yongle’s gauze and rebandaged him. The doctor resolutely tried to ask Li Yongle again as he pointed to the swollen knee, “Are you sure you want to continue playing?”
Li Yongle looked at his knee and nodded. “I am sure.”
The doctor sighed and replaced the gauze. He wrapped it up again. “It will be slightly painful. Hold on.”
Sun Laihong comforted Li Yongle from a side. “Losing the ball at that last moment was not your fault. In fact, nobody could do anything. That kind of escape…”
Li Yongle merely nodded silently.
Zhang Lintao was sitting behind Deng Rui. He secretly rubbed his left wrist.
Zhao Defeng drank a mouthful of water and poured the rest on his head. He then swept his hair to one side and sat down in silence.
No matter how the coach told them not to mind it, that ball has left a huge impact in their hearts. Once they stopped, they could not help but remember the entire process of the goal being scored. Perhaps they would only be able to forget about it once they are back running on the pitch.
The ten minutes break was really too short for the players who have been running around for eighty minutes straight. A lot of people did not have enough time to rest but the match was not over yet. The outcome has not yet been decided. They could not rest on their laurels. As a result, twenty-two players went back onto the pitch under the encouragement of their respective coaches.
The spectators once again showed their passion after ten minutes of calm.
Zhang Jun stood in the center circle and was ready for kick-off. Yang Pan stood beside him. They did not look at each other or quietly exchange words. Instead, both looked at the distant goal of their opponent, Ke Da.
“Ladies and gentlemen. After a short ten-minute break, players from both sides are back on the pitch again. The first half of the overtime match is about to begin! This is the first an overtime match, and even penalties, have been required to determine the result of a final since Luoyang became an independent division. During this fierce match, the enthusiasm of everyone here has caused the temperature of the stadium to rise. Even though it is a winter afternoon, we can all taste summer.”
Zhang Jun kicked the ball ahead. Yang Pan then followed up and kicked the ball back to his half of the pitch.
Kaka stopped the ball but did not return it. Instead, he took the ball straight into the opponent’s half. He Jialin did not expect Kaka to be so daring and to go past him so easily. Zhao Defeng also gave up the idea of attacking and went to block Kaka.
However, Kaka passed the ball to Wang Ning who was behind him. Wang Ning managed to easily receive the ball as no one was obstructing him, and further passed it to Yang Pan.
Yang Pan stopped the ball. Lu Qing was already in a defensive stance in front of him. Instead struggling to get past him, he passed the ball back to Kaka who had already broken free from Zhao Defeng.
After breaking free from Zhao Defeng, Luo Bin tracked him closely. In desperation, Kaka could only pass the ball back to Wang Ning.
During overtime, everyone had already used up a lot of energy. It was unrealistic to expect players from both teams to charge full tilt at each other and switch between attack and defense in the blink of an eye. Therefore, many overtime matches consisted of Team A attacking Team B for the first half. If Team B manages to defend the goal for fifteen minutes, they would then attack Team A in the second half. If no goals are scored at the end of overtime, both teams would have to resort to the most cruel and inhumane way of deciding the outcome of a match, a penalty shootout.
Based on the current point of view, it was inevitable for the match to be less exciting and fierce than the second half. Five minutes of overtime have passed. Both sides still struggled in the middle of the pitch. There had not been any threatening shots.
Liang Ke hesitated when he saw Ren Yu De who was mostly walking instead of running. He was unsure whether Ren Yu De should be substituted due to fatigue. It was as though Shu Guang was one player short. However, when the ball was passed to him, he was always able to hold on to it. Shu Guang that did not need to retreat and defend instantly when they had just initiated an attack. Going at a slow pace could help to conserve energy. It was a dilemma.
Liang Ke got a headache thinking about this. He took advantage of the time the ball went out of play to call Yang Pan over. He then softly said, “Tell Ren Yu De to not try and breakthrough when he receives the ball. Just control the ball and wait for an opportunity to pass it back out.”
Yang Pan nodded and poured water onto his own head. He threw the empty bottle onto the floor and wiped his face before returning to the pitch. However, he could not immediately convey the coach’s intentions to Ren Yu De. He had to wait for the next dead ball.
At this moment, Ren Yu De who was resting had suddenly rushed up to steal Zhang Yulin’s ball. He took the ball and rushed to Ke Da’s penalty area with an astonishing momentum. This time, he did not choose to go from the side but from the middle directly into the penalty box.
There was a slight deviation in Liu Chao and Deng Rui’s cooperation. Deng Rui was slow to tackle. As a result, Ren Yu De managed to slip through between them like a loach.
Shu Guang’s fans immediately shouted. It was as though their cries injected strength into Ren Yu De and helped him run on.
Zhang Lintao became tense. He knew how formidable Ren Yu De’s shots were at tight angles. However, he also knew how remarkable Zhang Jun was cutting in to a favorable position. Would they do a pass or shoot at the goal? Zhang Lintao would rather do a hundred multiple choice questions on politics than face this choice.
However, Ren Yu De would not let Zhang Lintao search for an answer or calculate the probability of the ball being passed. Time was life. Each second was crucial. Ren Yu De chose to pass the ball.
Ren Yu De tried to pass the ball but Zhang Lintao’s actions were quicker. He leapt sideways and parried the ball away with the tips of his fingers. Zhang Jun watched the ball soar away from him regretfully.
However, Ke Da’s crisis was not over as Kaka was already rushing towards the ball. When Luo Bin interfered, he managed to cleverly hit a grounded shot. A grounded shot is lethal in a chaotic penalty box. Regardless of the attacking or defending team, anyone caught careless with their feet may score a goal.
Zhang Lintao was on the ground when he saw Kaka take the shot. He took a deep breath and scrambled with both hands and feet towards the ball. However, before he could get to the ball, Zhang Yang turned around and cleared it away.
The atmosphere turned tense for Ke Da’s supporters. The ball that Zhang Yang cleared away went only as far as Yang Pan. The “King of Power” lifted his muscular right leg 25 m away from the goal…
Zhang Lintao felt desperation rise in his heart. His hand could no longer stop Yang Pan’s shot.
“Yang Pan, shoot!”
A tall figure suddenly appeared right in front of Yang Pan. The ball inevitably hit him. After a muffled noise, the figure fell down.
“Big Idiot!” Luo Bin glanced at Deng Rui that fell down to the ground.
“We are the best partners! The goalkeeper and the defender, haha!” This was what Deng Rui said when Zhang Lintao just joined the team. Zhang Lintao could still remember Deng Rui’s silly demeanour then.
“The ball has bounced back to Yang Pan! Deng Rui’s efforts could not stop him from shooting! Yang Pan shoots again…”
Zhang Lintao suddenly sprang up from the ground and leaped towards the ball.
With a muffled sound, Zhang Lintao managed to push away Yang Pan’s shot with closed forearms. Amongst the four great goalkeepers of Luoyang, apart from An Ke being spared from a terrible fate by virtue of being Yang Pan’s teammate, the rest had previously been defeated. Yang Pan had an amazing destructive power.
The ball blocked by Zhang Lintao fell to the right side of the penalty area. Liu Chao hastily rushed to clear it with a powerful kick as Ren Yu De closed in like a phantom.
Luo Bin first rushed to Deng Rui’s side. He then bent forward and shouted at Deng Rui who was on the ground, “Big Idiot! Are you dead?”
Deng Rui gritted his teeth, frowned and replied with a muffled voice. “No! I am not…”
“Then get up! The match is not over yet! Quick!” Luo Bin was the oldest player on the team but he did not flaunt his seniority. In fact, as partner defenders for three years, his friendship with Deng Rui was unusual. Although the nickname “Big Idiot” was not a nice one, everyone in Ke Da knows that Deng Rui’s best friend was Luo Bin.
Sure enough, after Luo Bin roared at Deng Rui, Deng Rui put both of his hands to the ground and climbed up with a scowl.
“Hey. Are you alright?” The referee still fulfilled his duty.
Luo Bin suddenly slammed his head at Deng Rui’s forehead and growled. Deng Rui growled back at him. Luo Bin then turned to the stunned referee and said, “Alright. He is fine now. The match can continue.”
“Ren Yu De’s surprise attack had caused confusion within Ke Da’s penalty box. With great courage, Deng Rui used his body to block Yang Pan’s shot. After the bland opening performance, the first climax had finally arrived! Players from both teams have showed us their unyielding spirit!”
If the players from both teams were initially showing some restraint, they were now putting two hundred percent into their offense. To quote a fan from outside the stadium, “Shit! Both sides are out of control!”
Now, Yang Pan suddenly felt that the coach’s arrangement was a bit too conservative. Allowing Ren Yu De to control the ball but not break through was naturally to allow Ren Yu De to rest. However, what was the point of conserved strength now? Instead, it may waste a good opportunity of scoring and winning. Just like the offense earlier., if Ren Yu De had merely controlled the ball instead of passing it, that climax would never have happened.
Would it be better to be conservative and enter a penalty shootout or would it be better to go on a fierce offensive to determine victory or defeat?
This was not a multiple choice question as there was only one answer.
Yang Pan went up to Ren Yu De who was panting heavily.
“How much strength do you have left?”
Ren Yu De looked up at Yang Pan and replied, “Enough to take penalties.”
“Do not worry about penalty kicks. Exert your best effort in these last few moments. We will defeat them with the first goal!” Yang Pan said as he turned to look at his opponents a distance away.
“We may also be defeated by a goal.” Yang Pan turned back. Ren Yu De smiled and said, “If this was a multiple choice question…”
Yang Pan shook his head and interrupted him. “We do not have any other choice.”
It would be all or nothing. It was definitely not a multiple choice question.
Liang Ke found out soon enough that Yang Pan must have altered his instructions. This is because Ren Yu De continued to try and break through the opponent’s defenses every time he got the ball.
“Shit! His remaining strength…” Liang Ke suddenly stood up but he immediately sat down again. This caused Su Fei who was beside him to be confused.
Maybe Yang Pan is right and I am the one who’s mistaken. What is the point of me being reserved at this moment? Maybe I am still afraid. When close to victory, the one that shrinks back will lose!
The situation on the pitch reminded Liang Ke of a phrase. The great revolutionary Liu Bocheng once said, “When confrontation is inevitable, victory favors the bold!”