Every team has their stars.
Among them – hidden in the flanks – lie players known as ‘x-factors’ who can turn a contest on its head within a blink.
Finals are tailor made for x-factor players to make a name for themselves – so take a look at who this tag belongs to at each club ahead of the finals.
X-Factor: Brendon Santalab
It has to be, right?
The 36-year-old has enjoyed a stellar career in the A-League and a Championship in his final season would top it off.
Moving over from the Western Sydney Wanderers in the off-season – ‘Santa’ added plenty to Perth’s line-up, scoring two goals in his 16 league appearances which only included three starts.
Santalab has scored 16 goals as a substitute in the A-League – earning him the tag of the league’s ‘super-sub’ – finding himself in the right place at the right time in critical moments.
It is this trait which makes Santalab one of the most dangerous players in the penalty area and could prove to be a difference maker in the finals if given the opportunity.
Despite only having scored one goal in five finals, expect the veteran to be as determined as ever to find the back of the net and etch his name into history.
X-Factor: Daniel De Silva
Despite only featuring for a full 90 minutes once this season – Daniel De Silva has what it takes to turn heads this finals series.
His season was interrupted by an early injury, which saw him having to fight his way into an already impressive Sydney outfit.
While the 22-year-old has only the two goals to his name this season, he is not a player you would want to go unnoticed – especially in a big game.
It is difficult to see De Silva breaking in and starting in Sydney’s first final but expect him to feature off the bench and make an immediate impact.
X-Factor: Elvis Kamsoba
While the former Avondale striker is yet to record his first A-League goal – he is nothing short of an excitement machine.
He immediately became a fan favourite with his pace and height making him an awkward match-up for defenders, who often have no choice but to foul him.
Like De Silva, it is unlikely Kamsoba will feature in Victory’s starting line-up but has been one of the first called upon by Kevin Muscat when a change is needed.
All Victory fans are hanging for the former NPL star to score and show-off his trademark backflip celebration – which would no doubt light up the finals series.
X-Factor: Baba Diawara
No this is not a drill, Baba Diawara is back.
Well to say he’s back would imply that he was there in the first place.
He may have had appeared more in hospital wings than scoresheets – but he looks set to appear for Adelaide United in the upcoming finals after scoring in his first appearance in over a year.
Diawara was signed with the hope of being Adelaide’s answer to their woes up front and their prayers could finally be answered should the Senegalese forward remain fit and firing.
X-Factor: Shayon Harrison
The Englishman has become a household name among City fans in his short spell, having scored four goals (five if you ask him) in ten appearances.
He has won fans around the country over with his composure and skill – none more so evident than in his solo goal last Friday – and could be what saves Melbourne City from an early finals exit.
The 21-year-old has met the high expectations placed upon him after his arrival from Tottenham Hotspur and is often City’s most dangerous player in the attacking third.
While the young forward is yet to experience finals football, his previous ten matches indicate he will have no trouble adjusting.
X-Factor: David Williams
Many were perplexed by Mark Rudan’s decision to sign Williams, but it has since paid off dividends.
In 26 appearances, Williams has scored a remarkable 11 goals – including a hattrick – and completes one of the league’s most dangerous attacking thirds alongside Roy Krishna and Sarpreet Singh.
Given oppositions identify Krishna as Wellington’s most dangerous player, Williams can often go unnoticed.
Now at his fifth A-League club, the 31-year-old is yet to lift silverware and will be determined to do so under the guise of Mark Rudan.