Reds fighting fit for finals test
Marco Kurz will carry a formidable record in knockout games, as well as a fully fit squad for the first time this season, into Adelaide United's A-League elimination final.
The Reds coach had prevailed in nine of the 11 do-or-die matches he had taken charge of in all competitions - an 80 per cent winning rate - since arriving at the club last campaign.
His hopes of further success in Sunday's playoff clash with Melbourne City had been boosted, as Ryan Strain returned from injury to grant him a healthy playing list to choose from.
A United spokesman confirmed right back Strain would resume full training this week ahead of the Hindmarsh Stadium encounter after missing the past four games with a hamstring issue.
Long-term knee injury victim Baba Diawara, who made a goal scoring comeback in the 5-3 triumph over Brisbane last Thursday, emerged from his first match in six months unscathed.
Centre back Jordan Elsey, a second half substitute against the Roar, also experienced no ill-effects having sat out the previous seven games with a foot problem.
It was timely news for Kurz at the business end of a campaign during which his playing stocks had been stretched by a string of injuries to key personnel.
The only absentee would be Danish forward Ken Ilso as he continued to serve a provisional suspension for an alleged doping violation.
Kurz's knack of squeezing the best out his charges in cutthroat fixtures had fired them to four straight wins in the 2017 FFA Cup, before defeat at the hands of Sydney FC in the final.
The Reds went one better in the knockout competition this campaign, remaining unbeaten and conceding just once in five matches as they downed the Sky Blues in the decider.
The German's sole taste of A-League finals ended in heartache last summer, when Besart Berisha's 89th minute goal consigned Adelaide to a 2-1 elimination loss to Melbourne Victory.
Both Victory and Sydney remained potential playoff opponents, should United progress beyond the opening week of the post-season for the first time since its 2016 title win.
But Kurz, who would depart the club at season's end, backed his team to rise to the City test as it benefited from a 10-day break and a five-match unbeaten run.
"We travel home immediately ... have a good recovery day, then the boys have two days off," said Kurz, after his side secured a fourth-place finish and home final with victory in Brisbane.
"We will prepare the team so good that we have a good chance to reach the next round (of the finals).
"For us it was very important that we have a home final."
The Reds players returned to the track at Adelaide City's home ground on Monday and would train at Hindmarsh on Tuesday, before a rest day on Wednesday.
They would return to Oakden for Thursday and Friday's sessions, ahead of a final hitout at Coopers on Saturday morning.
MARCO KURZ IN KNOCKOUT GAMES
Elimination final - Melbourne Victory 2 Adelaide United 1
FFA Cup 2017
Round-of-32 - Adelaide United 1 Newcastle Jets 0
Round-of-16 - Adelaide United 3 Melbourne Victory 0
Quarter-finals - Heidelberg United 0 Adelaide United 3
Semi-finals - Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Adelaide United 2
Final - Sydney FC 2 Adelaide United 1 (after extra-time)
FFA Cup 2018
Round-of-32 - Adelaide United 3 Central Coast Mariners 0
Round-of-16 - Queensland Lions 0 Adelaide United 1
Quarter-finals - APIA Leichhardt Tigers 0 Adelaide United 2
Semi-finals - Bentleigh Greens 0 Adelaide United 2
Final - Adelaide United 2 Sydney FC 1