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It has been four years since Kashima Antlers last headed into a new J. League campaign as contenders rather than champions, but for manager Oswaldo Oliveira the hunger remains the same.

After three seasons on top, Kashima’s domination finally ended last year as Nagoya Grampus finished 10 points clear of second-place Gamba Osaka while Oliveira’s side limped over the line in fourth.

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