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Coaches expect a tough battle in the MTN8 decider

Both Moroka Swallows and SuperSport United are likely to be under-strength when they meet in the final of the MTN8 competition on Saturday night.

The match at the Orlando Stadium is a chance for the sides to pick up the first piece of silverware for the 2012/13 season, and a handy R8-million in prize-money at the same time.

But both coaches will go into the game with injury worries that will have upset their plans.

Swallows have been most affected and are likely to be without their talisman Siyabonga Nomvete, who has failed to sufficiently recover from a toe injury sustained earlier this month against Orlando Pirates. Coach Zeca Marques says they are still monitoring his situation but hinted it was unlikely he will play.

"We are assessing him on a daily basis. Even this morning he was at the physio," Marques said. "At this stage I think he's more out than in, to be honest. You don't recover overnight and he hasn't run for three weeks.

"He has done absolutely nothing, so from a physical point of view, it's going to be difficult for him. As I said last week, it's not just Nomvete. We have other quality players in our team and we will play with them.

The show goes on and injuries happen. We can't stop that from happening.”

Marques is hoping to claim a first piece of silverware just a few months into his stint in charge of The Birds, having taken over from Gordon Igesund who left to take up the Bafana Bafana job.

"It's my first cup final, so I'm certainly looking forward to this," Marques said. "It means a lot to us being in a final. I'm happy we are playing against SuperSport. It's going to be an exciting final with two contrasting styles of football."

Meanwhile, SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt is sweating over the fitness of Zambian international Clifford Mulenga, who was injured in training this week.

He admits it has been a slow start to the campaign for his team, who have yet to fire on all cylinders, but having gone seven games unbeaten, they have at least proved difficult to break down.

"For us, it can kick-start our season and certainly give us better momentum through the season. I'm sure the money is also good," Hunt said. "We are looking forward to the game, to have a final so early in the season."

His side have been criticised for being too defensive, but he says this is an unfair judgment to make.

"I don't see it as an attacking team against a defending team," Hunt said. "I think we've created a lot of chances in the games we've played.

"We just haven't had the finishing touch sometimes here and there, but for me it's about being organised and making sure we are creating chances.

"We are a team that don't rely on one department. We play together and we attack from the back and defend from the front. If you do that properly, it's going to be a helluva game."

SuperSport are seeking a second successive domestic knockout trophy having won the Nedbank Cup at the end of last season.