By Kelvin Leong
Having had a good first season under his belt with Balestier Khalsa FC, Cunningham will have to step up and foster a new defensive partnership at the back after Daniel Hammond's move to join the Singapore Armed Forces FC.
Hammond and Cunningham were arguably one of the best central defensive pairings in the league last season but the New Zealander believes new signing, Lim Young Woo will prove to be an able replacement for his former team-mate.
Cunningham said: "It's a little different from last year but I've had a few games alongside Young Woo in the friendly matches. He is a good defender and a strong tackler. I'm sure our partnership will get better with each game we play."
The giant skipper was quick to credit his compatriot, former S.League coach Trevor Morgan, as the man responsible for his move to Singapore.
"I've been traveling around quite a bit, playing for Sorrento FC in the Western Australia State League. Also, I've been on trial with a lot of clubs in England like Millwall and Oxford. It was good money but also a hard life bouncing from club to club on weekly contracts.
"It was Trevor Morgan (former S.League coach) who got me hooked up for the centralized trials in Singapore. He was back in Perth after a stint with English side Hull, while I was playing for the Sorrento side.
"There were about 25 players at the trials and I caught the eye of the Balestier Khalsa management who came in with an offer. It all happened very quickly and although some other clubs spoke to me after, my mind was already set on joining Balestier, having met the chairman and coach."
Not one to mince his words, the 24-year-old defender went on to state his targets for the club and himself.
He added: "The objective for this season is to improve on last year's showing where we finished eighth in the league. This season we want to do better and I'm looking for a top-five finish.
"On a personal note, I would like to get a call-up to play for the national side (New Zealand) and hopefully, my performances will impress enough to get me into the team."
Despite being relatively far away from his homeland, Cunningham is adamant that he has a shot at making it into the All Whites team, one of the surprise packages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
"I'm on the national team radar. They are sending correspondences and keeping track of my performances in Singapore so New Zealand officials know who I am and where I play my football. It's just a matter of impressing them enough to get a national team call-up.
"New Zealand football is on the rise especially after the 2010 FIFA World Cup. There is a lot of fan support trying to get behind the football fraternity so its really good. The next step is to break out from the group stages on a regularly basis and move on from there. It is no mean feat though."
With many S.League foreign players seemingly ready to move to a new club after one or two seasons under their belt, Cunningham refused to discount the opportunity of moving on but is comfortable where he is at the moment.
"I definitely feel Singapore is like a home this year having had a season here already. Pre-season training has gone a lot smoother and I really think it would be a good season. At the moment, I'm enjoying my football and Balestier has been really good to me so I'm just going to give my best." quipped the affable Cunningham.
Will Paul Cunningham emerge as one of the S.League's top performers and earn a spot in Ricki Herbet's All Whites team?
Keep watching this space as we bring you the action from the 2011 Yeo's S.League in the coming months.