Gaetan Bong is pleased with Brighton and Hove Albion’s Premier League survival this season despite being short of their fans’ expectations.
The Cameroon international played a key role to help the Seagulls gain promotion to the English topflight in 2017 and has continued to impress with the side.
This season he made 22 league appearances and helped them to keep four clean-sheets.
Bong admitted that the 2018/19 season is tougher than last term.
“I think we’ve learnt a lot more from this season than we did from our first campaign in the Premier League,” Bong told the Brighton website.
“Last year we were really focused on fighting and doing anything to stay in the league, whereas this year people were expecting more.
“We had teams like Fulham who came up and spent a lot - we expected more, of course, but at the end we fought so hard to stay in this division and for us that’s the most important thing.
“We’ve played well this season; the division is so competitive - even the clubs who have gone down are still winning matches.
“People weren’t expecting them to win games, but they have – this season was harder than last and in a way we had more to lose.
“Last year we had nothing to lose because we'd just come into the division and people thought we’d go back down, but we did really well that season.”
Bong signed a new one-year contract with Brighton last week and he is delighted to extend his stay with the side.
“I’ve been at this club for four years now and everyone knows my strengths – I never try to do what I can’t, I do my job for the team,” he added.
“I’ll always give everything; my job is to defend well first and foremost and then help the side in attacking areas if I can.
“I’m very happy because I feel like the choice on a new deal was the correct one for me, I’m delighted to commit my future to here.”
The Indomitable Lions are in Group F along with Benin, Cameroon, Ghana and Guinea-Bissau.