FFA Cup Final 2018 Player to Watch: Jordan Elsey

Marco Kurz's reputation as a demanding taskmaster willing to sacrifice style for solidity seems to naturally lend itself to players of experience rather than youthful exuberance.

In reality, however, the Adelaide United boss has not been afraid to hand regular opportunities to emerging South Australian talent.

Paul Izzo, Ryan Kitto, Nikola Mileusnic and Ryan Strain are among the players to have made strides under Kurz's tutelage.

The biggest improver has surely been Jordan Elsey, a maturing centre-back who will be crucial to the club's hopes of beating Sydney FC and lifting the FFA Cup for a second time come October 30.

JOURNEY: Road to the FFA Cup Final
PLAYER TO WATCH: Sydney FC marquee Siem de Jong
PLAYER TO WATCH: Adelaide wing wizard Craig Goodwin

Clean sheet king

Adelaide's organisation has been evident throughout their run to a second successive appearance on the tournament's showpiece stage.

While scoring a relatively modest six goals from four matches, the concession of zero highlights the premium Kurz places on defensive discipline.

Elsey has been at the heart of all four FFA Cup clean sheets.

Partnered with new signing Michael Jakobsen, the imposing 24-year-old has kept Taylor Regan on the bench with an impressive continuation of the form that saw him earn 28 appearances in the Hyundai A-League last term.

He will, barring an unforeseen incident, be there again at Coopers Stadium, meaning Steve Corica has plenty of planning to do as to how his team will pick open a high-functioning back four marshalled ably by Elsey.

Jordan Elsey

Strings to the bow

Elsey's hunger to make the difference at both ends has been a real problem for opposition defences in the FFA Cup.

Indeed, it was Elsey who opened his club's account this year, showing a predatory instinct to turn home the opener in the 3-0 victory over Central Coast Mariners in the Round of 32.

Another followed in the Semi Final defeat of Bentleigh Greens.

After squeezing past Lions FC and APIA Leichhardt respectively to reach the final four, the Reds had their ever-present defender to thank for putting the match beyond Bentleigh at Kingston Heath.

Elsey turned in the rebound from Isaias' free-kick shortly after half-time to secure the 2-0 success, before clarifying his priorities after the match.

"The clean sheet is more important to me than scoring," the Para Hills product told Fox Sports.

"We work hard in training and we go into the final very confident having not conceded a goal."

Timely form

The Hyundai A-League season opener between Adelaide and Sydney FC served as something of a dress rehearsal for Tuesday's clash.

Elsey got a first-hand look at Sky Blues poacher Adam Le Fondre in the 1-1 draw and generally handled the task with assurance.

He made four clearances, won three of four aerial challenges and impressively managed not to concede a foul that could have invited danger from free-kick specialist Siem de Jong.

It was not until the 78th minute that Le Fondre finally got off the leash to equalise from Milos Ninkovic's fine low cross.

The goal came as a harsh lesson that Elsey will surely heed, knowing only 90 minutes of absolute concentration will be enough for Adelaide to avenge the heartbreak they suffered when these teams fought for the silverware in 2017.

Jordan Elsey and Adam Le Fondre