KPL: Shabana keen to restore lost glamour

By Nyambega Gisesa: Wednesday, November 12th 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Fans celebrate with Shabana FC Goalkeeper Suleiman Mwasiri after a 2-0 victory against Finlays Horticulture FC from Kericho.

Whenever the golden years of Kenyan football are recounted, the name Shabana FC pops up, and after eight years in the cold, the ‘Glamour Boys’ will finally play in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL).

The comeback is a result of years of pain, tolerance, perseverance and hard work, a period where only the passion for the sport kept the players going as they had no boots, coach, food and hope for the future.

However, on Sunday, the “Tore Bobe” mantra of players (Tore bobe is a Kisii phrase loosely translating to 'we are on fire') and the hopes of thousands of fans were fulfilled when Shabana topped the 2014 National Super League Zone B.

By beating Naivasha based Finlays Horticulture 2-0 the club rightfully earned a promotion to the KPL in a magic tale of nine lives.

During its heyday, the famed club, which was one of the three community clubs alongside KPL Champions Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards - was a force to reckon with and dominated the local football scene in the '80s and '90s.

Formed in 1982 by Dogo Khan, an Asian business man in Kisii Town and the proprietor of Shabana Hardware and General Stores Limited, the club was used to appreciate the hardwork of his employees.

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“Now the community must come on board and support the team because the next level needs the participation of everyone,” Dogo Khan said after the team won the battle to be elevated to the KPL.

The club would grow to become a home for young talent before it went on to become the subject of news on the African continent.

It joined the premier League in 1985 with players like free scoring Richard Otambo, Henry Motego, a player who was as strong as an ox and who fired rockets from his right foot, Henry Nyandoro, whose thunderous strike at the Gusii Stadium against the Kabwe Warriors (Zambian Champions), took Shabana to the Africa Cup Winners Cup, Kenyan international striker Mike Okoth (his son, Divork Origi went on to become the first player of Kenyan origin to play in the world cup) and Ken Kenyatta.

Shabana Junior Soccer Academy used to be one of the best football academies in the country. From 1985, Shabana Coach Akbar Khan tapped young talent from Itierio Secondary School with players like Henry Nyandoro, Richard Otambo, the late Vincent Abuga, Mike Okoth, Bitange Ondieki, Sylvester Mabaruk and Francis Omar.

After being relegated in 2006 Shabana became its own worst enemy, refusing to play in the Nationwide League and later regrouping as the Gusii United Football Club.