Shabana FC, otherwise known as the Glamour boys, are set for a grand comeback to Kenya’s top-flight league after close to two decades. The club commands a large and ardent following, particularly in its Kisii backyard.
The club was founded by a successful young businessman in Kisii, Dogo Khan, in 1982. Born in 1950, Khan had managed to build a busy hardware and construction materials store, Shabana Hardware.
He pumped some of his hard-earned cash into the establishment of the club named after his hardware store. Shabana would grow to be synonymous with the town as fans in Kisii embraced it. Dogo supported the club financially and was also involved in the running of its affairs, offering guidance to staff members.
The club would go on to have its most successful years in the 80s, mesmerizing fans with its attractive brand of football that earned them the ‘Glamour Boys’ nickname. In 1987, Shabana had its best season to date, finishing 3rd in the league behind giants Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards, and representing Kenya in the Africa Champions cup – where they lost in the first round to Kabwe Warriors of Zambia.
In 2006, Shabana crashed out of the top flight and were relegated after 21 years. The club’s fortunes took a turn for the worst and it was temporarily disbanded.
In 2008, the club was re-established and began its climb back up from the lower leagues. Fans supported the club which is also credited with helping develop raw, homegrown talents from local high schools in Kisii.
As Shabana lifted the National Super League (NSL) trophy at the Simeon Nyachae Stadium in July, marking their return to the Kenyan Premier League, an ecstatic Khan could be seen smiling on the pitch.
The club finished the season with 73 points, ahead of Murang’a Seal in second place. As it prepares for the top flight, it is reportedly planning to sign over seven new players, and adding to its technical bench as well.