By Kelvin Leong
With a strong crowd of 2,534 fans rooting for the two teams, the 22 players took to the field in a festive atmosphere that befitted the action on the pitch in the opening game of the 2011 domestic football season in Singapore.
Warriors coach, Richard Bok gave debuts to his new defensive and strike partnerships in the shape of Bah Mamadou and Daniel Hammond at the back while Mislav Karoglan partnered Fazrul Nawaz in attack.
Credit to the Young Lions, they gave their visitors a run for their money early on, chasing down every ball and closing down the space in midfield.
As the game wore on, SAFFC started to threaten with a few speculative efforts until the 22nd minute when an unmarked Nawaz bulleted a header past Izwan Mahbud to give the Warriors a one-nil lead going into half-time.
The second half started with Young Lions coach Robin Chitrakar changing his formation, bringing on Fazli Ayob and dropping playmaker Shahfiq Ghani into the hole just behind him.
The move paid dividends as the Cubs pegged their visitors back and matched them like for like.
Smart running off the ball from Ayob accompanied by a more industrious looking midfield led by Raihan Rahman behind him, the home team went in search of the equalizer.
Despite valiant attempts to break down the defensive man-mountain duo of Mamadou and Hammond, the Young Lions could only kick their heels in frustration when Shaiful Esah broke clear down the left in the 66th minute before drilling the ball into the box for Indra Sahdan who failed to connect with the ball only to see it bobble into the path of Karoglan who duly obliged with a spectacular scissor-kick that flew past Mahbud.
Once referee Abas Daud blew the full time whistle, the fans rose as one to applaud both teams of the pitch, leaving a positive mood in the air for the season ahead.
Both coaches were happy with their charges but it was Richard Bok who seemed more content of the two.
In his post-match press conference, the SAFFC coach said: "I think it was a good performance. Not the best but a good one. The Young Lions are young and fit. They made it hard for us with their energy as they never stopped chasing and closing our players down."
With a solid performance to kick start the season, the Warriors have laid down a firm signal of their intention to secure yet another league title over the likes of Etoile FC, Home United and Tampines Rovers.