A SWEET aroma of the Castle Lager Premier League title has engulfed the Dynamos Football Club camp.
It has been nine long seasons since Dynamos last took the championship which is undoubtedly a significant disappointment for the club and its fans.
During that time, they have watched in agony as FC Platinum dominated the league, winning the last four titles in quick succession.
For DeMbare, there have been some near-misses during that period, particularly last season when they led the way for the better part of the campaign, but collapsed at the last hurdle.
A late collapse ultimately gifted the title to FC Platinum.
Optimism is, however, growing within the DeMbare family, with the team's vice-captain Emmanuel Jalai harbouring genuine belief that this could be their year to shine.
As they prepare to play Bulawayo City at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo this afternoon, the Genesis Mangombe-coached side is five points behind league leaders Ngezi Platinum Stars with 12 matches remaining.
That gap will be reduced to two as Dynamos are likely to be awarded three points from their abandoned match against Highlanders last week.
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They were comfortably leading 2-0 when Bosso fans ran amok, causing the match to be called off after 38 minutes.
"Results had not been coming but now we are getting those wins. If you look where we are now on the table, it's a big motivation for us to push and win the league. As players we are pushing each other because it's (the league) something that we can see it’s there. We can win it. The belief is now there. Like I said, we just have to apply ourselves in a positive way," Jalai said.
The dimunitive rightback is the only Dynamos player who has played every minute of the team's season so far.
The team has enjoyed a remarkable rebirth since Mangombe took over from fired Herbert Maruwa.
The Harare giants were nine points behind the log leaders when Mangombe took over, and he has been in charge of four league games so far.
He has technically reduced the gap to just two points.
But it’s the issue of consistency that is a big worry to Dynamos, who are yet to stitch three consecutive wins this season.
"Things can change as long as we put our minds and all our efforts together as a team," Jalai reckons. "As long we do that, we can easily correct the inconsistency issue. I'm glad the boys are pulling in one direction and the mood is great," added the man who has enjoyed as bright a renaissance as anyone under the new leadership of Mangombe.
Dynamos will be looking for revenge against Chiefs after the Bulawayo side won the reverse fixture 3-2.
But they will look to do that without influential midfielder Tanaka Shandirwa who failed to make the trip after picking an injury last week, while goalkeeper Prince Tafiremutsa and defender Donald Dzvinyai have also been ruled out.
Chief's preparations for this match were far from ideal, with reports suggesting that players downed tools for the better part of the week in protest over unpaid salaries and bonusses. They only returned to full training yesterday.
Club secretary-general Dumisani Sibanda confirmed the players had returned to training after agreeing to a payment plan with the executive.
“I am out of Bulawayo but all I know is that they trained today[yesterday]. The management met with the players although I am not sure of the outcome of the meeting but definitely there must be some arrangement that was made which I cannot confirm in detail because I am not around,” Sibanda said.
The good news for Chiefs is the return of talisman and league top goalscorer Obriel Chirinda.
The bustling striker missed the team's match against Chicken Inn last week due to suspension.
"This is a big boost for the team," Bulawayo Chiefs coach Johanisi Nhumwa said yesterday.
Chirinda is the joint top goalscorer in the league with nine goals.
He will be up against the league's meanest defence this afternoon, which has let in just eight goals so far. Five of the goals were conceded in two matches.
Matchday 23 fixtures
Today: Bulawayo Chiefs v Dynamos (Barbourfields), Cranborne Bullets v Hwange (Nyamhunga), Herentals v Black Rhinos (Mandava), Ngezi Platinum Stars v GreenFuel (Baobab), Manica Diamonds v Zpc Kariba (Gibbo)
Tomorrow: Highlanders v Yadah (Barbourfields), Triangle v FC Platinum (Gibbo), Caps United v Chicken Inn (Bata), Simba Bhora v Sheasham (Baobab)